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Hempfield zoning code rewrite continues despite confusion

| Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, 12:02 a.m.

Hempfield supervisors voted to continue the process of adopting a new zoning code despite some confusion over the wording of the motion, which may have caused at least one supervisor to vote for it when he meant to vote against it.

The vote means the supervisors will continue to gather public input and hold another public hearing held before a final vote is taken.

The motion Monday was to no longer consider efforts to adopt a new zoning ordinance and map. A negative vote meant the board will proceed with the process; an affirmative vote meant the process would be halted, said township attorney Les Mlakar.

Board president Doug Weimer introduced the motion to scuttle the proposed code. Supervisor Sherry Hamilton provided the second.

Voting no were supervisors John Silvis, Jerry Fagert and Tom Logan.

“I vote no with reservations,” said Silvis. “I think this has to be looked at again. My vote is no, but it should be reconsidered.”

Resident Kevin Leeman asked Mlakar to clarify the motion and restate the vote after Silvis' comments.

“If we are going to proceed with this thing, it better be done right,” Leeman said.

Joan Shaver, a member of the task force that began revising the township's zoning laws in 2006, said while the law is not perfect, she hoped the supervisors would continue saying the proposal “could be fixed with further study.

“Please don't deep six this. There's so much good in it.”

Shaver said most of the public opposition to the new law concerns the use of agricultural land. She said the problem is the map and the way the new zoning districts are configured.

“If you take anything away from this meeting it is ordinance good, map bad. That's the whole problem with this thing. We didn't do anything nefarious. We made it better. The map is a disaster.”

Former supervisor Bob Davidson, who also served on the task force, praised Logan, Fagert and Silvis for their votes.

“You made my day,” he said. “(The code) wasn't meant to be perfect. There will be some people who always will object. We probably didn't listen to enough people.

“Take time to do it, Make the effort,” he added.

Another resident said there was too much secrecy surrounding the process.

“This kind of happened behind closed doors,” said Reid Crosby.

Ron Croder, a business owner in Hempfield, said the proposed ordinance will hurt businesses and lessen property values.

Les May, a real estate investor who owns property in Hempfield, said the process “should be reexamined and started from scratch.”

Jan Esway said “rezoning, ie., redevelopment, is not synonymous with progress. We don't want to end up with an asphalt and concrete township.

Mlakar said the major opposition to the proposed law seems to center on the use of farm land under the two proposed agricultural zoning districts. He said the supervisors will have to provide guidance on how to proceed.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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