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Supervisors allow machine shop to continue operations

| Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, 11:49 a.m.

The Ramsey family received approval last week to continue operating a machining business on their property in Darlington.

At an Oct. 24 public hearing, Ligonier Township supervisors approved issuing an occupancy permit to Ramsey Machining LLC, owned by John R. Ramsey, on property at 1392 Darlington Road.

Although a few neighbors asked supervisors to reject the application due to the noise and appearance of the property, the majority of those who attended the hearing spoke in support of the machine shop.

The application caused controversy in 2011, when the township filed a complaint at the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas to try to close the application file, started in 2008, without issuing a permit. Zoning Officer Cindy Turley said the Ramseys ignored her for three years while she tried to complete the process necessary to issue the permit.

In the response to the complaint, Ramseys' attorney Rich Flickinger said the Ramseys were unlawfully denied approval.

The township “kept changing and adding to the requirements and conditions for approval, making it impossible for the defendants to obtain approval,” Flickinger wrote in his response.

Ultimately, Westmoreland County Judge Anthony G. Marsili directed the Ramseys to file an appeal with the township's zoning hearing board. The zoning hearing board ruled that the Ramseys could operate more than one business on their property. It was then brought before the supervisors to decide last week.

“How long has this gone on?” asked Bob McDowell. “How much money has been spent on legal fees for this for the last 4 12 years? It's time to get this finished so we can all move on. I think this has been a debacle.”

The Ramseys' property is zoned village commercial, where the township allows light industrial activity with conditions.

Neighbor Karen Sistek said she doesn't consider the machine shop light industrial activity.

“Light industrial does not include noise that makes my house shake, pollution, fumes, traffic that has become a nightmare,” she said. “I would never begrudge anyone for trying to make a living, but do you have to do it in my front yard?”

Flickinger said neighbors' complaints referred to other businesses on the property, not John Ramsey's machine shop.

Bruce Kemer said the Ramseys' property — and all of the businesses on it — do not take away from the neighborhood.

“Being a person of the neighborhood, I would encourage supervisors to consider the character of the neighborhood. It's not a nice, quiet, little place. It's noisy with a busy road,” Kemer said.

Ultimately supervisors approved the machine shop 2-0. Supervisor Tim Komar abstained from voting.

They outlined the following conditions for the machine shop:

• Hours of operation are not to exceed 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and no operation on Sundays.

• Machine shop machines must be housed indoors. All tools and parts must be under roof.

• An updated site plan must be submitted for township records.

• Any machines left unattended for more than 90 days will be considered junk, under the township's junk ordinance.

Jewels Phraner is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or jphraner@tribweb.com.

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