Zoning issue could heat up after election

October 30, 1997


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

ST. THOMAS, Pa. - Even though the St. Thomas Township board of supervisors established zoning with a unanimous vote on Oct. 2, the issue that prompted hostile debate for a year is likely to resurface if two candidates take their seats as expected after Tuesday's election.

Republicans David Ramer, 52, and Timothy Sollenberger, 39, both of whom are unopposed, said they plan to repeal the ordinance.

"The voters didn't want it, the people didn't want it ... We just don't feel there's a need for it in the township right now," said Ramer, a native of the township.

Residents lost trust in their local government after supervisors approved the zoning ordinance despite overwhelming opposition, said Sollenberger, also a native.


An incumbent who voted for the ordinance, Robert Lake, lost to Ramer in the primary. Sollenberger won his spot on the ballot in a write-in campaign against opponent Stefan Myers to fill the remaining two years in a term left vacant by incumbent Butch Walls.

"We want to get the township back into the people's hands," Sollenberger said. "That seems to be something that's really been lacking here for quite a few years."

Ramer and Sollenberger would lose now only to write-in candidates. They would join current Supervisor Chairman Edmund Herald on the board.

Both candidates said the majority of township residents want the zoning ordinance repealed.

For that to happen, it would have to go back to the township planning commission and the Franklin County Planning Commission for their recommendations, said John Lisko, township solicitor.

Then the new board of supervisors would have to advertise a public hearing, which could be held during a regularly scheduled meeting, at which time the board could vote, Lisko said.

A majority vote would be needed to repeal the ordinance.

The candidates also said they'll continue to fight the Multilee landfill proposed for a site off of St. Thomas-Williamson Road. Ramer has served as president of a citizen's group against the landfill.

The new zoning ordinance controls the placement of landfills on property set aside, or zoned, for that purpose. Landfills could be placed on land zoned for woodland conservation, where public services like water and sewer aren't available, according to the ordinance.

But since township resident Harold Brake applied for the state permit more than 10 years ago, the question remains whether the landfill site, which is in an agriculture-zoned area, can be considered under the new ordinance.

A zoning ordinance was proposed for the rural township west of Chambersburg, Pa., 10 years ago and drafted by members of the township's planning commission with the help of planning consultants and engineers at a cost of $22,000.

As the zoning ordinance was introduced to the public through meetings, the township split and an opposition group formed in which leaders collected more than 2,500 signatures on a petition from residents against zoning.

The debate escalated when anti-zoning pamphlets were circulated to residents and arguments developed at meetings and public hearings.

Supervisors reportedly received anonymous threats on their lives and were victims of tire slashings and other vandalism over the zoning debate.

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