May 19, 2016 - Special Meeting

The Special Meeting of the Montour Township Board of Supervisors was called to order on May 19, 2016 at 7:00 p.m., by Chairman Joseph Mullen.  All members were present.

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

A Moment of Silence was observed.

 

Linda Woodward, Planning Commission Chairperson, mentioned that the Planning Commission gave the Supervisors the proposed Comprehensive Plan for review 45 days previous.  It will now be presented in its final form and have the citizen’s present concerns or questions. 

Ms. Woodward presented Michelle Brummer, consultant for the Comprehensive Plan.

Ms. Brummer highlighted a few aspects of the proposed Comprehensive Plan.

She explained that the Comprehensive Plan is the tool or document that a local government uses to give direction to how the community is growing or changing.  It is also the foundation for the Zoning Map.  The current Comp Plan was adopted in 1990.

This proposed Plan recommends 13 actions:

     Land Use Plans:

  1.  Revise the Zoning Ordinance and Map.  Ms. Brummer explained the proposed Zoning Map changes.
  2. As a partner with #1, Review and Revise the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance.

 

Transportation Plan:

  1. Continue to work on Evacuation Plan for Sunken Heights area.
  2. Continue to address drainage problems on Township roadway network.
  3. Explore opportunity for a PA Byway designation for Route 42.  This is a designation that PennDOT can give and the State Tourism can promote for areas with scenic interests.
  4. Consider the need for a Park and Ride in the Community.  Seda Cog might be able to provide guidance for that.

 

Housing Plan:

  1. During the Zoning review, ensure that multiple housing types can be developed by the private sector as the market demands.
  2. Continue to enforce building codes to protect housing stock.

 

Community Facilities and Services Plan:

  1. Continue to explore drainage issues in Sunken Heights area. 
  2. Determine best use for Perry Avenue open Space site.  (Property acquired through the Floodplain Protection)
  3. Continue to cooperate with Montour County, Columbia County and Montour Recreational Commission for the North Branch Canal Trail.
  4. Reserve land along Montour Run for a future trail.

 

Natural and Historical Resources Protection Plan:

  1. Enforce protection of the Floodplain from development activity including filling.

 

Public Comment:

There was much discussion on this matter.

Marla Timmons, Legion Road, asked to further explain the proposed Intensive Farming District. 

Ms. Woodward explained that Intensive Farming is where concentrated animal operations are maintained.  She also explained that it is a recommendation for future placement.  Nothing has been set at this time. 

It was asked if the Township could just not allow it.  The response was, that the Federal and State Government say it must be allowed. 

Debbie Mayernick asked if an Intensive farm is already proposed in another area, why not put the Intensive Farming Zone in that area.

It was explained that the Planning Commission did not recommend that area because of possible future development in that surrounding area.

Sharon Fisher, Legion Road, asked why Intensive Farming in that area and why the lower part of Legion Road is being changed to Conservation.  

Mr. Mullen further explained the process of State Regulations.  He stated the anything that the State says supersedes what the Township says.  Any farmer can use his or her farm for a variety of farming uses.  There is a Nutrient Law to go with the Intensive Farming, that is when the farming produces excess manure, there must be somewhere for it to be spread.  So there is a limit to how many and how much Intensive Farming can be in an area.  He then explained the flood area changes to conservation. 

Michael Hartmen, Legion Road, asked what is the benefit of the change to Conservation. 

Ms. Woodward explained that this is an area they know has potential for more flooding.  This change will not affect those that are already established in this area. 

Solicitor Roberts stated that it would be considered a Non-Conforming use and can still continue to be used in the same manner. 

Paul Baursox, Legion road, said he heard that a “Piggery” is going in in his area.  Ms. Woodward explained that what she was told was that the area will be maintained as is, no future farm.

Mr. Baursox then expressed his concerns of the Intensive Farming.

Ms. Brummer explained that Intensive Farming cannot be prohibited, it must be allowed somewhere, if it is allowed in the Agriculture Zones in general, and that is hundreds of acres of the Township, new farming could be placed anywhere in the Agriculture Zones, however, they must go through the State and Federal regulations in terms of Nutrient Management. 

Mr. Mullen stated that it is his understanding that if all regulations and requirements are met and the applicant has Agricultural Zoned land, the Township cannot specify where any farming activity can be, they can only recommend an area. 

Solicitor Roberts explained that all the other changes that have been talked about are changes to be implemented within the next two to three years.  The Intensive Farming area is something they are recommending to do in the future. Because that is the case, the laws are evolving and so maybe the law will change.  If the law will provide that we can specify where CAO’s and CAFO’s have to be, then there is a possibility that might be the place it would go. 

Ms. Ebright stated that as Supervisors, they are here to listen to resident and to serve them and to do their wishes the best that they can.  But the bottom line is, the proposed pig farm has to be as safe as possible, there are lots of rules and regulations.  Mr. Sponenberg has three small children and he would not jeopardize their lives or health.  He is doing everything he can so when the farm goes through, it will be as safe as possible. 

 

Mr. Bennett mentioned that on July 7, 2015, the Planning Commission, on one solid motion, made all of these recommendations.  He then distributed copies of meeting minutes from that date.  He then said that it was his understanding that this was not a proposed location, it is not for later discussion, it was for today’s discussion. 

Ms. Woodward disagreed with that information.

 

Mr. Mullen explained that if you write regulations that violate the laws, the farmer can go to the Attorney General and the Attorney General will file suit against the Township.  The farmer would not have to do it themselves.  The Township is currently under discussions for variations in our current Zoning in relations to these operations. 

Ms. Woodward stated that if there is no possibility of making Intensive Farmers go to that area, it is up to the Supervisors to remove that area from the map.

Tracy May, Jackson Street, stated that as a Planning Commission, they were taking a stand and saying this is what we are recommending.  It is up to the Supervisors to accept that recommendation or not.  She brought up a recent Zoning issue that came before the Planning Commission for review.  She herself voted against the laws and voted with her values.  She feels that as a Governing Body that is looking out for the best interests of the Township, we could absolutely say this is what we want to do. 

Mr. Mullen explained that voting with values can be expensive and is the Township prepared, as a body, to support our values for the cost of what it would do for the likelihood of losing. 

It was asked what benefit does the Township and the community receive from the CAFO’s. 

Solicitor Roberts responded saying, what benefit it is to the Township is irrelevant.  The law provides that a Zoning Ordinance, to be supportive and upheld, has to provide for all lawful uses somewhere in the Township. 

 

Mr. Mullen spoke of some of his concerns.  He has been involved with MS4.  It has to do with movements of water separate from the sewer.  His concern is that he does not want to start building or allow building in areas that increase the footprint of this problem. 

Another concern he has is there is nothing addressing the issues with the trailer courts in the Township. 

Robert Bennett, Tower Drive, asked why the Township cannot clean the creeks and runs as in the past. 

Ms. Woodward mentioned that DEP regulations prevent it.

 

Dale Kramer, Middle Avenue, asked on a smaller unrelated issue, why Mustang Sally’s is allowed to have a flashing light where in the past other business were not allowed to.  Tim Mauk, Zoning Officer, will look into the matter.

 

Mr. Mullen thanked Ms. Woodward and Ms. Brummer for their presentation.

 

Solicitor Roberts explained the next steps:  He stated that the hearing was advertised to possibly take action at the next regular meeting if the plan is acceptable to the Supervisors as is.  However it sounds like there are issues and the Plan may not be acceptable.

The next step is at the next Supervisors meeting, it be discussed item by item and indicate whether it is to be sent back to the Planning Commission with recommendations as to how the Plan is to be revised.  The Plan can be revised with minor changes; however, significant changes must be reviewed again with another public hearing.

Solicitor Roberts stated that the matter will be taken up again at the regular township meeting, June 9, 2016.

There being no further business to discuss, the Meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m., on a MOTION of, Ms. Ebright seconded by Mr. Bennett.  Motion carried.

 

Respectfully Submitted,

Theresa M Hampton
Township Secretary

E:May19Spec