Turnabout is fair play

PAT FRIDGEN

One resident who complied with requirements to bring his property into compliance with zoning laws wants the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors to hold his neighbor to the same standards. Jeff Todd asked June 8 why Tex and Betty Myers were not issued a Notice of Violation in October when the township received multiple complaints on how the Myers' were using their land along the Conococheague Creek. Todd went through his own set of violations from 2006 to 2009, when he and Antrim reached a settlement agreement on terms. One result was moving his auto body repair shop from Worleytown to Molly Pitcher Highway.

"Why are you showing favoritism to these people?" Todd asked.

While Todd received a notice immediately after the Myers' and other neighbors talked to the township about his property, and he was required to post a bond, that did not happen when he turned in the family up the road on their zoning violations.

He alleged Antrim gave Tex Myers six months, then two extensions of 30 days, one May 1 and one May 30, to complete his clean up.

"All I'm asking is for you to be fair," Todd told the supervisors. "I have no beef with the township. I have a beef with my neighbors."

Supervisor Sam Miller agreed with the fairness aspect. He did not support any more extensions.

Complaints

The complaints addressed by Sylvia House, zoning officer, and also investigated by Mary Ann Shaffer from the Franklin County Soil Conservation District, included: junked vehicles, multiple businesses on one property, hazardous materials not properly stored or removed, illegal garbage dump, illegal salvage yard, outhouse by the creek, camp area in a flood zone, buildings without permits, erosion and runoff into the creek, illegal  mining operations, moving dirt without a land development plan and an open burn pit. Todd challenged the Myers' claim that a pavilion in the flood zone was erected before the zoning ordinance went into effect.

House had mailed a letter in the fall to Tex and Betty Myers, the legal owners of the land, though the complaint also included their son and daughter-in-law, Tom and Ginger Myers. In November she reported to the board that Tex Myers had said he would have his properties in compliance by May 2010.

Last week she said some of the violations had been taken care of, according the Tex Myers, but she would not inspect the property until June 30, when the extension was over. She said the original due date was the end of May, but she granted the extra 30 days. She believed the Myers' request was "reasonable" due to the heavy winter and wet spring delaying clean up.

She was not zoning officer in 2006. While she understood Todd's displeasure, she explained that she did things differently.

"I know how I operate. I give people every opportunity to clean up properties of their own accord. If they don't, I will issue a Notice of Violation."

She added that the Myers' would not get another extension, and as told to her, they were getting rid of the scrap metal presently.

Litigation

The board met in a lengthy executive session with special attorney Janet Miller and representatives from Norfolk Southern on the railway's application to the Public Utilities Commission. NS wants to abolish a section of Milnor Road and alter Hykes Road to create a grade separation. The new bridge would be 130 feet long and 30 feet wide. Six- and four-foot shoulders would accomodate pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Traffic studies indicated 80 percent of the 900 daily vehicles on Milnor would join the 700 daily vehicles on Hykes. NS intended to dedicate the two roads and bridge to the township.

According to the application, NS asked for an expedited field conference to address all the issues. The 82-page document was signed by Roger Bennett, Director of Industrial Development, on May 20.

Antrim solicitor John Lisko said an administrative law judge had to approve the application. Once it was published Antrim had 30 days to file a response. Supervisors have stated they do not want to own Milnor, now a state road, nor take responsibility for the maintenance of Hykes Road bridge.

Hired help

The board hired Tim Goetz for the road crew. Because of his high recommendations, he was granted a 60-day probationary period rather than 90, said administrator Brad Graham. His starting pay was $16.75 per hour.

Supervisors also established a mowing rate of $10 an hour for permanent and seasonal workers when they performed mowing duties. That meant raising the rate of permanent part-time employee for Antrim Township Community Park, Lee Stoops. Additional staff who would be assisting were part-timers Ken Izer and Mike Knight, and two people yet to be hired on an occasional basis. The college students hired for the summer were Heath Ausherman, Ryan Knight and Hannah Izer. Their rate of pay was $8.25.