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Fireworks retailer, township in court over plan rejection

September 28, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Sky King Fireworks and Antrim Township were in Franklin County Court Thursday, the first day of testimony on an appeal by the company of the township Board of Supervisors rejection of its plan for a commercial fireworks store in January.

On Jan. 9, the board of supervisors rejected Sky King's land development plan for the store at the intersection of Mason-Dixon Road and Mountain View Drive near State Line, Pa., citing several recommendations by the township Planning Commission for changes in the plan. The property is in an area zoned community commercial.

Sky King is asking Judge John R. Walker to overturn the Board of Supervisors' vote. Testimony in the hearing will continue today.

The planning commission met Jan. 8 and Joseph Vanoudenhove III of Sky King testified Thursday that he had not seen the commission's recommendations until the Jan. 9 supervisors meeting. Had he received them, he testified, he would have tried to have the plan modified to bring it into compliance.

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At the Jan. 9 meeting, Sky King attorney Joseph Klein told the supervisors the plans should be subject to the "deemed approval doctrine because they were not acted on within 90 days after they were originally submitted," according to the meeting minutes.

The supervisors had previously rejected a land development plan from Sky King last year and subsequently amended an ordinance allowing fireworks stores in highway commercial zones.

The planning commission had recommended approval of Sky King's plan contingent on a highway occupancy permit for stormwater discharge being obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation; that there be three designated parking spaces for tractor-trailers; that no outside tent sales be allowed; and that Mountain Valley Drive be upgraded.

The meaning of "upgrade" was disputed by the parties. Scott Longstreth, a consulting engineer for Sky King, testified that upgrade did not necessarily mean the cartway from 24 feet to 32 feet. Township solicitor John Lisko contended that the township requires that for commercial developments and that the revised plan submitted to the court by Sky King still did not address that issue.

Lisko said the earlier plan showed two entrances and did not indicate whether either was for one-way or two-way traffic and asked Longstreth if that made sense.

"We're not talking about common sense. We're talking about township ordinances," Longstreth replied.

Judge John R. Walker said a tape of the Jan. 9 meeting could be important to his ruling.

"That tape may be where I find Blackbeard's treasure," Walker said.

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