After many years of taking legal steps against a local business owner, East Penn Township supervisors are ready to take physical steps, they said during a meeting Monday.
The township's zoning violation fines against business owner Clair Troxell total $624,500. Troxell has been cited and fined for three separate zoning violations: for storing commercial vehicles at a building previously used as a schoolhouse and community center, for raising pigs on a property along Route 895, and for using a property to store junk, tires and scrap metals. Troxell challenged the zoning ordinances and fines in the Court of Common Pleas of Carbon County, and also the Commonwealth Court, which affirmed the fines.
In recent months, Troxell has made a $2,500 payment against the fines, but residents who attended Monday's meeting said he's made little progress towards cleaning up his property. Chairman Dean Kercsmar promised that he and another supervisor would personally visit the properties.
"We want to make sure that what is there substantiates the fines, as soon as the weather clears that's what we will determine," Kercsmar said. ""If it's junk he'll have to remove it."
Kercsmar said that the supervisors will report on the results of their visit during the supervisors' May meeting.
In another matter involving ongoing litigation, the supervisors reported that Lehigh Asphalt Paving and Construction Co. Tamaqua, has filed a challenge to the township's zoning ordinance regarding mining and excavation.
Lehigh Asphalt seeks to expand a five-acre quarry operation located within the boundaries of a 114-acre parcel on Hollow Road, which is owned by Charles and Agnes Messina. The parcel includes 64 acres on the west side of Hollow Road and 50 acres on the east side, which is where the 5-acre quarry is located.
According to the ordinance, such operations are considered temporary uses of land and permitted only by Special Exception. East Penn Township's Zoning and Hearing Board had denied Lehigh Asphalt's Special Exception request in 2008, and the company challenged that decision in the Court of Common Pleas of Carbon County, the Commonwealth Court and the Supreme Court.
In December, the Supreme Court ruled against Lehigh Asphalt. Township solicitor James R. Nanovic represented the township at each level. After the meeting Nanovic explained that Lehigh Asphalt is not appealing the Supreme Court decision. Instead, the company is challenging the validity of the township's zoning ordinance, asserting that the ordinance prevents them from expanding their mining and excavation operations. The zoning ordinance was enacted in 1996 and amended three times (2000, 2001 and 2005). Nanovic said that Lehigh's challenge to the zoning ordinance will be heard in the Court of Common Pleas, Carbon County.