Antrim boards consider reducing zoning districts

PAT FRIDGEN

The Antrim Township Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission met in joint session Jan. 26 to consider changes to the zoning ordinance. Zoning officer Sylvia House said the purpose of her presentation was to advance the idea of some supervisors to condense the number of districts in the township, and no formal discussions had taken place to date. With the Comprehensive Plan essentially complete, it was important to decide if changes would occur, so the concepts could be added to the document.

In attendance were supervisors Rick Baer, Samuel Miller, Curtis Myers and Fred Young III, and planning members Lester Musselman, Larry Eberly and Joel Wenger.

"We don't have to write the ordinance yet, but we need to move fairly quickly on whether to reduce zoning districts," House said.

If the CP were adopted and then the changes were introduced, the expense would be considerable in altering the master plan, she informed them.

Zoning was introduced into Antrim in 1966, with nine zones: agricultural residential, residential 1, residential 2, local commercial, highway commercial, light industrial, highway industrial, rendering plant, and floodway. In 1984, with a new Comprehensive Plan, the number was dropped to seven: ag residential, R-1, R-2, highway commercial, community commercial, industrial, and flood hazard.

The year 2002 brought the addition of four new zones, community commercial 2, professional, highway commercial 2, and light industrial, because of the proposed connector road. With the development of Antrim Commons Business Park in 2007, one more district was created, highway commercial 3, which brought the total to 12.

House had started from scratch to make new zones based on uses, many of which overlapped in the current zones. She came up with five: agricultural, rural residential, community commercial, highway commercial, and industrial. Only the standards would vary between the zones, she said, such as setbacks, screening and paving requirements.

The two panels considered various allowances in each district. House suggested the PC discuss her ideas at their Feb. 1 meeting, the supervisors at their Feb. 9 meeting and then some action could be taken on what to put in the Comprehensive Plan.

What about that shed?

Antrim thought it had a solution to Joe Shearer's shed, which lost practical use when the township widened and paved Shinham Road last summer. Shearer had asked the board to move his shed because the door no longer opened, due to the encroachment of the raised road into the area of swing. After James Byers and Sam Miller and roadmaster Paul Minnich inspected the property, they decided the shed would fall apart if moved. A remedy was to shave six inches off the road in front of Shearer's property by tapering along a 180-foot stretch. Township staff would also put a swale in to help direct water runoff. The trouble was, Minnich had promised to notify Shearer of any decision, and failed to do so.

When Valley Quarries showed up last Tuesday morning, Shearer said he did not know what the crew was up to, and halted their project.

After a lengthy discussion, Miller moved and Curt Myers seconded to continue with the plan to adjust the road, which Shearer said was a waste of taxpayer money. Byers and Fred Young III also voted yes. Miller said the crew should call police if there was interference, but he wanted to see how the lowered road worked to Shearer's benefit. Solicitor John Lisko said if there was a problem again, to just stop the work and be done.

At that point Young said, "I want a revote. The more I think about it, we've already tried and been stopped."

That's when Shearer said he had not been informed of the township's plan and Minnich admitted it.

Shearer asked for the $2,600 Valley Quarries was going to receive and the township could leave the road alone. He would use the money to move the shed back 10 feet himself.  Lisko said such a short move would put the shed out of compliance with setbacks related to the right of way, but he could move it 35 feet. Shearer responded that his land that far back was on a slope. House said he would need to pay $750 for a variance request with the Zoning Hearing Board.

Miller and Myers rescinded their motion.

"It's a unique situation," said Lisko. "You've inhibited his ability to use his barn."

Miller and Myers moved to pay $2,600 as a settlement with no further responsibility from Antrim. It tied 2-2. The board chose to investigate the issue some more and bring it up at the next meeting.

Another employee leaves

The board accepted the resignation of Kara Fauver, office assistant, who worked for the township since 2006. She initially worked at the sewer plant and was moved into the office after the August 2008 restructuring of personnel. Her resignation was effective Jan. 27.

A temporary employee was hired for office clerical work to fill in for an employee on sick leave. The temp began Jan. 25.

Other business

The board postponed signing agreements with PennDOT, which outlined Antrim's financial responsibility if the improvements slated for exit 3 did not come to pass. The project received $4 million in federal grants. Antrim will first seek formal agreements with the developer Atapco on its financial commitment. Atapco wants the improved exit for its industrial park.

The supervisors released $150,000 and $75,000 to the Rescue Hose Company for its capital purchases and general fund expenses.

Boyer and Ritter was approved to conduct the 2009 audit.

Administrator Brad Graham was authorized to get bids for the 2010 paving projects, township mowing, line painting, aggregates and fuels.