Ligonier Township planners offer suggested changes to zoning proposal
Ligonier Township's planning commission is suggesting to the supervisors several changes to the proposed zoning ordinance.
During its meeting on Thursday, the board voted to recommend increasing the 200-foot buffer zone around unnamed perennial streams to 325 feet, increasing the setback from a well site to a protected structure from 650 feet to 750 feet and removing cell phone towers as a conditional use in the R-1 residential zone.
Board members Scott Gongaware and Eric Schreiber were absent.
Township manager Terry Carcella and solicitor Michael Korns outlined changes that had been made to the ordinance and map since a meeting for public comment on the ordinance was held Feb. 17. Carcella said an area previously zoned industrial across from the Sheetz along Route 271 was changed to C-2 highway commercial and the R-1 residential zones in Waterford and near the Valley School of Ligonier were expanded. The Ligonier Valley High School and Valley School of Ligonier now have a half-mile “no-drill zone” around them. The natural resource protection overlay has been expanded by Laurel Ridge State Park and Laurel Mountain ski area. He said the permitted width of billboard signs has been decreased from 700 feet to 250 feet.
Korns said the unconventional drilling provisions are now included in the body of the ordinance under conditional uses. It was previously a separate section of the ordinance.
Susan Huba, executive director of the Loyalhanna Watershed Association, suggested the board consider making the 200-foot buffer around unnamed perennial streams 650 feet, like the named streams. Additionally, she urged the board to change areas in Wilpen, Waterford and Laughlintown where potential sewage expansion could occur from agricultural to R-1 residential. She asked that they expand the natural resource protection overlay by the Latrobe Reservoir further south along the western border of the township and expand protection by the southeastern border of the township near Linn Run and Laurel Summit State Parks.
Board members said they will review the information Huba submitted.
During public comment, several residents again asked about board members potentially having conflicts of interest in voting on the zoning ordinance. For instance, chairman Mark Spitzer has an oil and gas lease.
Korns said he is still awaiting an advisory opinion from the State Ethics Commission.
Spitzer said five years ago when he joined the commission he made it known to the solicitor that he had an oil and gas lease and told Korns when work on the zoning ordinance began. He said he was told it would not be a conflict of interest, and he said even if he had abstained from voting on the ordinance last month, the motion still would have passed.
“Anybody voting on this has a potential interest in the zoning ordinance,” said board member Kevin McVicker. “Any of this could affect any of us on a financial basis.”
In other business, Korns informed the board that the supervisors at their next meeting will discuss the status of the hearing on a conditional use application from Pittsburgh SMSA L.P., doing business as Verizon Wireless, to build a cell phone tower in the Ligonier Valley Cemetery.
The hearing on the application was opened in August, but the company's legal counsel requested a postponement to address engineering concerns.
A public hearing on the zoning ordinance is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 26 at the Ligonier Valley High School auditorium.
Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or email@example.com.