Washington Township planners delay decision on Capital Camps request

July 12, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — In response to a neighbor’s concerns about noise, the Washington Township (Pa.) Planning Commission has delayed its decision about how Capital Camps & Retreat Center should be allowed to expand.

The planning commission hosted a hearing Monday regarding a conditional use permit requested by Capital Camps. To build a new retreat center, the camp off Pa. 16 in Rouzerville, Pa., needs to obtain a permit from the township because its land is zoned forest conservation.

The planning commission is an advisory board that will make recommendations to the Washington Township Supervisors.

Janet Schneider of Old Route 16 told the planners of what she called “major problems” with noise, particularly in the evenings. She said she’s opposed to any expansion at the camp.

“Since it is zoned forest conservation, it should be kept that way. They’ve been nibbling away year by year, piece by piece,” Schneider said, saying the forest only remains on the camp perimeter.

Surveyor R. Lee Royer represented the camp’s parent company at the planning commission meeting. He explained the camp wants to relocate the lodge, add an office to the dining hall and build a three-story retreat center into the side of a hill.

Businesses and organizations, which are often from the Washington, D.C., area, hold retreats at the facility in the off-season when youth camp is not in session, Royer said.

“They have people housed in these camp buildings until it gets too cold. What this retreat center is going to do is give them year-round use for retreats,” Royer said.

Planners talked about restricting amplified sound after 9 or 10 p.m. to cut down on noise. Some expressed frustration that Capital Camps did not send an employee to the hearing.

“I think we should have a one-on-one with Capital Camps and say, ‘This is a problem,’” said Randy Kuhn, planning commission member.

“They should have been here,” said Christopher Firme, chairman of the planning commission.

Solicitor John Lisko told the planners they have to take action on the permit at their next meeting regardless of whether someone from Capital Camps attends.

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