Township supervisors take heat for 'Billboard City'

January 04, 2006|by DON AINES


The Washington Township Board of Supervisors heard more than an hour of comments Tuesday night, much of it concerning issues raised by rapid development in the municipality, before its members could get around to electing new leadership.

Carroll Sturm and John Gorman, who unseated incumbents Arthur Cordell and Richard Mohn Jr., were sworn in at the beginning of the meeting. Following the public comment period, Sturm was elected chairman of the board on a 4-1 vote, with Supervisor Paul Benchoff casting the lone dissenting vote.

Supervisor Chris Firme was elected vice chairman.

Approximately 30 people attended the meeting, many of whom spoke critically of rezoning and other actions taken by the previous board.


"The decisions that some of the previous boards have been involved in have resulted in too many negative effects," resident Richard Aughinbaugh said. He said those actions have resulted in "a beautiful landscape turned into Billboard City."

"We need some explaining of who is going to pay for this bypass," resident Kerry Bonner said of the Washington Township Boulevard being built to reroute some traffic around Pa. 16. He said the new board should vote to stop the project.

Bonner also said Supervisor Stewart McCleaf and Benchoff should resign and Township Manager Michael Christopher should be fired.

"They are a disgrace to the township," Bonner said.

McCleaf said he would not resign and said the relief route is being paid for by impact fees on new development.

"In the past two years I've felt ... we've exchanged rezoning and housing for a road," resident Pat Heefner said. Nevertheless, Heefner said the board deserved time to work on the challenges posed by development.

From other residents the supervisors heard that the township's future should include plans for more bike and walking paths, and that developers and new retailers such as Wal-Mart and Lowe's should pay more for municipal services and new schools.

Christopher said state laws limit impact fees to transportation improvements. He estimated that Wal-Mart and Lowe's will generate about $100,000 in real estate tax revenues each year, but "the lion's share of that will go to the school district."

After the public comment period, the board settled down to the task of reorganizing, appointing committee members, hiring consultants and setting salaries, wages and fees.

Most of the 32 items on the reorganization meeting agenda were passed in routine fashion.

Washington Township Supervisors

Who's in:

John Gorman

Carroll Sturm

Who's out:

Arthur Cordell

Richard H. Monn Jr.

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