Supervisor concerned about proposed zoning changes

PAT FRIDGEN
Antrim Township is planning to reduce zoning districts, with the proposed map up for discussion. The green area would be agricultural; the blue, rural residential; the yellow, community commercial; the red, highway commercial; and the purple, industrial. Citizens may give their input at a meeting Thursday night at the municipal building at 7 p.m.

Antrim Township has scheduled a worksession for Thursday, March 4 at 7 p.m. to continue a discussion on proposed zoning changes. Zoning officer Sylvia House had submitted a plan to the supervisors and the Planning Commission on Jan. 26, reducing the number of districts from 12 to 5. Supervisor James Byers was absent from the meeting. House said with the Comprehensive Plan almost finished, if the township wanted to change zoning, the concepts should be included in the document.

At the Feb. 23 meeting, Byers saw the plan for the first time and asked the rest of the board to slow down. In the short time he had had to look over the change in districting, he said, "I don't agree with this plan and where it might lead us someday. I don't want to be rushed because of the Comprehensive Plan."

He had received numerous calls from constituents who were concerned, primarily because Grindstone Hill north of Route 16 would be zoned Highway Commercial. It would be open to the same development as the land surrounding the connector road south of Route 16. He added that he was shocked how few different districts were in the new plan.

House said the comments she had heard from citizens, developers and land planners were positive. She emphasized that the change was based on use. In the current plan, uses of districts overlapped so she pared them down to five: agricultural, rural residential, community commercial, highway commercial and industrial. She said standard requirements for developed property, such as setbacks and paving, would be by the use, not the zone itself.

While the north area does not have public sewer, Byers said a line could easily be run out. Engineer James Monn, from the audience, said, "Not having public sewer in highway commercial is bad news and there will be problems. It needs it, period."

Curtis Myers asked House to gather information on the percent of use each of the five districts would entail in the township. Due to the economy, he wanted the industrial zone encouraged.

House was amenable to the suggestions, stating she wanted to know what the supervisors and other people were thinking. She thought a reserve zone could be added, meaning that what is now agricultural could maybe in the future be switched to highway commercial, if the HC zone was full.

The public may share their views at the Thursday meeting.

Water trail

Mark Goldbach from the Park Committee asked permission to start the process of making the 20 miles of the Conococheague Creek within Antrim Township a water trail. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission establishes guidelines for such routes and is working on updates. In the meantime, Goldbach wanted to use volunteers to do a feasibility study to determine access points, needs, problems and opportunities.

Water trails are designed as boat routes suitable for small watercraft. Along the way are access points, boat launches, day use sites and sometimes camping sites.

"The real key for people to enjoy the Conococheague is public access, which is very limited in Antrim Township," said Goldbach.

The committee reported a designated water trail would encourage tourism, provide for outdoor physical activity for residents and increase stewardship of natural resources. Antrim's responsibility would be adequate boat launches, parking, signs and maps. Some expense could be incurred with GIS mapping and holding public meetings.

The supervisors present, Byers, Myers, Fred Young III and Rick Baer, supported the concept.

Other business

The board approved the purchase of a computer system through Pennsylvania's Costars program. Its price of $22,762 bested the quote from Dell of $28,130. The system, for another $188, included wiring used monitors to each supervisor's station in the meeting room. From that vantage point they could view board packet information. One personal computer would control the monitors and also send information to a smart board for viewing by the public. The terminal server would offer security measures over an exchange server, House said as she explained the setup.

The supervisors would also be able to log onto the server from home but not download anything. "This is a safeguard in case Antrim is ever sued," she said. "We know our information is here."

If the board later wanted to upgrade, the cost to be able to operate each monitor separately would be $1,086 and for individual laptops, $3,575.

The company the township hired as its IT service provider, Global Data Consultants, will install the new computer system for $3,950.

The board finally reached a decision on what to do about Shinham Road, which because of improvements over the summer, made it difficult for Joe Shearer to get a tractor out of his shed. He said he was able to do it, but the cab scraped the roof. He was also concerned about water running into the shed because of the new elevation of the road.

Because Shearer had interfered when Valley Quarries attempted to mill the road in front of his farm to alleviate the problem, Young moved to do nothing more. He agreed that there had been miscommunication from the township informing Shearer of the plans, but said the paving company was mobilized to work and was stopped on a township road.

Byers was willing to give it one more try, but when Shearer said he opposed the milling, Byers seconded the motion and it passed 4-0.

The board delayed hiring an engineer once more. Antrim Township Municipal Authority notified the township it unanimously recommended Brinjac Engineering, which has served the authority for 12 years. Young and Baer had met with Dave Brinjac the day before. Baer said the supervisors still needed to discuss the issue.

The board approved a $3,868 contribution to the Franklin County Drug Task Force, based on population, on a 3-1 vote. Byers opposed the payment.