Quincy zoning plan OK'd despite opposition

June 15, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

QUINCY, Pa. - Quincy Township has a new zoning ordinance, one that proponents say is simpler and will protect the township in the future.

The 2-1 vote adopting the ordinance followed a 1 1/2-hour, raucous public hearing Tuesday attended by about 50 residents, about a third of whom spoke in opposition.

The motion to adopt was made by Supervisors Chairman Joseph S. Middour and seconded by Wilbur Sanders. Supervisor Robert Gunder cast the dissenting vote.


A quick look at the new zoning map shows that the vast western and eastern parts of the township are areas that will have little or no residential or commercial development.

The eastern third of the township is covered by Michaux State Forest, where no development is allowed. The western third is being left agricultural, which allows only 2-acre zoning. Another large 2-acre strip abutting the state forest on the west has been designated as forest conservation with its restricted 2-acre zoning.

Commercial development is earmarked for a section in the north-central part of the township near the Guilford Township line and a section west of the Borough of Mont Alto, Pa., along with sections along Tomstown Road. High-density residential areas will be established around Mont Alto.

South Mountain, and the Tomstown and Quincy areas are designated as villages, according to the map.

Middour said at the onset that the supervisors are aware that "people get quite passionate about zoning and their property rights."

He tried to reassure residents who live in districts that will change with the new ordinance that their properties will be grandfathered in, that they can continue as they are. That also applied to businesses.

"You can still run your business, sell it or expand it," Middour said.

"When we started this process 16 months ago, we said it would be a forward-looking process," Middour said. "When you're dealing with zoning it's always a hassle. What's a good land-use plan in one person's eyes is a restriction on his neighbor's rights. It's about making restrictions on a few for the benefit of many. That's the basis of zoning."

The new ordinance was prepared with help from Franklin County Planning and Zoning Office officials. The county's planning commission reviewed the ordinance, said it is consistent with the county's comprehensive plan and recommended its approval.

Kerry Bumbaugh, a Quincy businessman who beat Middour in the May Pennsylvania primary, was the most vocal speaker Tuesday.

If Bumbaugh remains unopposed in the November general election, he will assume Middour's supervisor seat in January.

Bumbaugh asked that the vote delayed for a month so more residents could review the new zoning map.

"They don't understand it. People are not ready for these changes yet," he said.

He also criticized the new ordinance, saying there is no infrastructure in the township to support the commercial development it sets up.

Quincy Township has a new public sewer system but no public water system. Most residents get their water from private wells.

Bumbaugh suggested a few minor changes in the existing zoning ordinance would fix some of the problems the township is facing.

"People are not happy with this map. It's going to cost them more money," he said

Local Realtor Paul Gunder said his problem with the ordinance is that it removes some village designations for no logical reasons and will force residents whose properties are grandfathered in to pay $350 to apply for special exceptions when they want to change something.

One resident said the new ordinance is not fair to "people who are here now. They won't be able to pursue what they want to do."

Joseph Koski, a member of the township's planning commission until January, worked on the ordinance.

"Give it a chance to work," he said. "If it's not right, then change it."

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