A Carbon County judge will decide if the county can build a road on the Packerton Business Park project.
During a hearing between the Carbon County commissioners and Mahoning Township supervisors on Tuesday, Judge Joseph J. Matika heard from several witnesses about each entity's position on building a road through the business park, which is located primarily in Mahoning Township, with the exception of a small portion in Lehighton borough. Mahoning Township supervisors rejected the plan for the road; as well as the subdivision on Aug. 27, citing that the plans as prepared were not in full compliance of the township's Subdivision and Land Development Ordinances.
A number of witnesses, including Ronald M. Tirpak of Carbon Engineering; Commissioner Wayne Nothstein; and Mahoning Township Supervisors Chairman John Wieczorek, testified about the proposed plans for the road, the events leading up to the county's appeal, and the waivers submitted by the county regarding the project.
Carbon County's attorney Edward Hughes argued that under the county code, it states that the commissioners can decide to build a road if it is for the good of the county. The proposed road would help with bringing jobs into the area, he said.
This code, he continued, supersedes municipal code.
Under the township code, Hughes added, the board of supervisors may regulate sidewalks, but notes that it follows county code and gives the commissioners the power to override the supervisors decision.
Mahoning Township's solicitor Tom Nanovic, who represented the township in the hearing, rebutted, saying he disagrees with Hughes' interpretation of codes, stating that it is pretty clear that the county needs to comply with the township's Subdivision and Land Development Ordinances.
He then cited two case laws that dealt with similar matters.
Nanovic continued that the township feels that if the county believed it had the right to overrule the board of supervisors, then why did officials submit a number of waivers for the subdivision plans.
"Our position is the supervisors may have not granted some of the waivers if the county said up front that they didn't have to listen," he said.
Hughes again addressed the court, stating that the county could have built the road without the township's approval but wanted to work with the township.
"I believe that the county has the right to build county roads in the county," he said, adding that if the state Department of Transportation and the county were required to obtain approvals from all municipalities when they built a road, the road would never happen because each municipality's codes are different.
"Right now, this road would enhance economic development," Hughes continued, adding that the proposed park would bring in businesses and jobs to the county. "This road does comply with the exception of sidewalks."
Following the arguments, Matika said that he would take all information submitted and the testimonies heard into consideration and render a decision as soon as possible.
The county appealed Mahoning Township's rejection of the proposed plans in September because lack of movement on improving the property will cause the county to lose millions in grants that it has secured for the project over the years.