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Washington Township endorses mulch business permit, with conditions

April 15, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Residents filled every seat in the Washington Township Municipal Meeting Room Monday to testify in Planning Commission hearings for a local mulch retailer and proposed cell tower at Blue Ridge Summit.

The hearings drew heated commentary from neighbors who were both for and against the proposed conditional uses.

Neighbors opposed to additional noise and road hazards at J&R Mulch & More along Anthony Highway (Pa. 997 south of Waynesboro) presented the commission with a laundry list of concerns they had over owner James Petre's request to expand his business to include sale of propane.

Petre has been selling mulch, stone, and furniture at his 32-acre farm in an agriculture zone since 2004.

Residents feared Petre's business and delivery hours would only get longer as his business grows.

Debbie Gettel has lived next to the Petre farm for 16 years and said since Petre opened his business, the neighbors have dealt with noise pollution until well after Petre's stated hours of business.

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Petre, whose business is open until 6 p.m. on weekdays, said he takes deliveries until 9 p.m. some evenings.

Gettel said if the permit was approved, the commission needed to restrict his hours and enforce those restrictions.

"Who do we call when there are deliveries at all hours of the night?" she asked. "I want the number of someone who approves this that I can call and wake up when the noise wakes me up."

Carol Shanholtz defended Petre's request for the permit to expand his business.

"There are things more offensive that he could do and I give him credit for living in an area where neighbors look at him and point fingers and still wanting to raise his children there," she said.

The board unanimously recommended approving the permit, with many conditions.

Among those conditions, were a land use plan submitted within 90 days, limiting all business activity to no later than 6 p.m. and providing safe access for large delivery trucks that neighbors claimed block traffic on Pa. 997.

Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., residents commented until well after 10 p.m. on the proposed cell tower along Jacobs Church Road.

Commissioner Elena Kehoe said the issue for residents boils down to the proposed location of the tower.

"The bottom line is that the community doesn't want a 190 foot tower on its main street no matter how good it is," she said to applause from residents.

Residents voiced concern over a state study cited by a Liberty Towers representative that approved the tower in a historical area.

Gary Muller said Liberty representative Randall Holmes told residents they could comment on the study, but were not given the chance.

"You show up here tonight with the study done?" he asked. "You jumped out of order and did not do what you told us you would do a month ago."

A decision on the tower was unavailable late Monday.

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