Carbon County is preparing for its hearing appealing Mahoning Township Supervisors' decision to deny the proposed plans for the Packerton Business Park.
During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, Daniel Miscavige, county solicitor, updated the board on the recent appeals filed by the county in the Court of Common Pleas of Carbon County against Mahoning Township. The commissioners voted to authorize the filing of the appeals on Sept. 6.
Miscavige said that in the land use appeal, which covers the township's denial of the project, the court has issued an initial writ "directing the township to return the records from those proceedings to the county in anticipating of a hearing on the appeal.
He explained that the county, in the appeal, is saying it disagrees with the denial of land development and wants the court to review the decision.
In the second appeal, which deals with opening of county roads within the Packerton property, Miscavige said that an initial hearing date before Judge Joseph Matika has been set for Nov. 21.
In this petition, Miscavige explained that the county's position is that it has the right to lay out roads on their property within the provisions of the county code.
The appeals are a result of the Mahoning Township Supervisors' decision to deny the proposed plans for the Packerton Business Park, which would include making a new turning lane into the park off of Route 209 in the Packerton Dip area; and creating a site that would be ready for industrial business to move in and operate.
Previous meetings between the two entities have only sparked more questions, rather than solutions.
In the last denial, Mahoning Township stated that it believes the county did not comply with several areas of the township's Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance, including not obtaining a PennDOT Highway Occupancy permit for the intersection and Pennsylvania DEP permits for the Conspan Bridge and affiliated grading.
The township also stated that the county did not meet requirements because it did not provide sufficient walkways that were requested; and does not own all the property needed to complete the entrance of the park.
The commissioners have continually said they were working to accommodate the requests by the township so that they could finally move forward with the project.
One major potential speed bump that the board may now face is if the appeal is delayed too long or if the county loses the appeal, the county risks losing a total of $3 million in grants that were secured specifically for the development project.
Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, chairman, explained in September that if the county does not start work on the property by the spring, it may lose a $1 million grant and because this grant is part of a match for a $2 million grant, that grant would be lost as well.
He added that the board's intention is to get the process rolling on starting the industrialization and then sell it to private industry.
In other matters, the board weighed in on Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson's decision to delay the voter ID requirement for the upcoming presidential election.
Nothstein said that he feels that in some ways it is a blessing because there will be less confusion for many; but some will still be confused by the whole situation.
"It is what is it," he added.
Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard echoed Nothstein's thoughts, saying "I don't think they had enough time."
"I was in favor of the photo ID," he continued, adding that he believes there is voter fraud out there in larger cities like Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, but not in Carbon County. "I think they tried to put it together too quickly, which created a lot of confusion. It was challenged and it is what it is, and we'll see what happens."
Commissioner William O'Gurek, who has always said he was against the law, said he was happy about the judge's decision.
"I was against it as you know and I'm glad it was overturned," O'Gurek said. "I just wonder how much the state wasted on everything they tried to do with rushing it through when they weren't prepared to do it."
He cited mailers that the state sent out by the thousands to Pennsylvania residents, which cost a lot of money to make and distribute.
The board also voted to adopt a resolution urging members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate to amend and adopt House Bill 135 and for the governor to enact the same law upon passage. House Bill 135 proposes to authorize the transfer of funds for state prison purposes to county jails, probation offices and local law enforcement.
Nothstein said that this would help because the prison system is one of the largest increasing budgets for counties.
The county also voted to approve an employment separation with Anthony M. Chillari of Lehighton as a part-time corrections officer/Teamsters, effective Oct. 4.
Chillari was charged recently after he and his girlfriend got into a confrontation.