St. Thomas repeals zoning ordinance

March 18, 1998|By DON AINES

St. Thomas repeals zoning ordinance

ST. THOMAS, Pa. - To the cheers of many of the approximately 80 people attending Tuesday night's meeting, the St. Thomas Township Supervisors voted to repeal the zoning ordinance a previous board approved last fall.

Supervisors Timothy J. Sollenberger and David C. Ramer, both of whom ran for office last year opposing zoning, voted for its repeal. Edmund G. Herald, the only supervisor left from the board that approved the ordinance, voted against the repeal.

"Zoning is a proactive ordinance, not a reactive ordinance," Herald said before the vote.

"If we, as the government, don't plan for the future of the township, somebody else will and it will be the people with the bucks," Herald said.


Sollenberger disagreed with him, saying people with money have the influence to tinker with zoning ordinances in their favor. He added that enforcing zoning would cost the township by requiring it to hire an enforcement officer and appoint a zoning hearing board.

"I don't feel zoning is the only answer to stopping the landfill," Ramer said in reaction to claims by pro-zoning residents that it could prevent the proposed Multilee landfill.

"I think we have some good issues and we'll continue to fight on those issues" he said of the effort to prevent Charles E. Brake Co. President Harold Brake from building a landfill.

While those at the meeting were sharply divided over zoning, most oppose Brake's plan for a landfill on St. Thomas-Williamson Road.

"Zoning will stop this dump from going in," said former supervisor Randy Quinn. He said Brake was not concerned about other township ordinances, but "he is extremely, extremely concerned about zoning."

Earlier this year, Brake offered to withdraw his application for a municipal waste landfill if the township repealed zoning.

"A few people here say zoning will keep the dump out. It won't," said resident Edward L. Horsh.

"The majority of the people here don't want it ... I think the issue should be put on the ballot to allow the people to decide," said Wade Burkholder of Chambersburg. A property owner in the township and an alternate on Chambersburg's Zoning Hearing Board, Burkholder said he is not totally opposed to zoning, but he didn't like the plan approved in October.

Some zoning advocates asked the supervisors to table the issue for further consideration. Others said only objectionable portions of the ordinance needed to be repealed.

The township Planning Commission and the Franklin County Planning Commission sent letters to the supervisors asking them to retain zoning.

Douglas Niemond, vice chairman of the county Planning Commission, said earlier this week that zoning was the best way to control development spreading westward from Chambersburg along U.S. 30.

A number of residents said they opposed the ordinance on the grounds that they should have control over their own land.

"I think we should be able to do what we want to when we want to," said Chet Calvet.

Several residents noted the results of last November's election when former supervisor Robert Lake, who supported zoning, was voted out of office and opponents Sollenberger and Ramer were elected.

"We fought the law and we won," said township resident James Reamer.

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