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East Penn planners discuss horse business for township

Published November 18. 2009 05:00PM

The East Penn Planning Commission took a favorable attitude toward a horse training and breeding business on Ben Salem Road and recommended rejection of a plan for a quarry on Hollow Road. The planning meeting was Monday.

Advanced Racing Operations Consultant Corp. presented a sketch plan for a combined plot of ground at Hollow and Ben Salem roads. It would be from lands of Walter Zlomsowitch, Robert Ziegler and the old airport.

Attorney Gretchen Stearns said the corporation wanted to establish a standardbred racetrack for training purposes only - no racing. She said racing is becoming more popular and Carbon County is within driving distance of many tracks.

She described what they plan as "a condo for horse trainers" with a full-size track and five barns that would be rented to trainers.

It would provide jobs and grain and hay would have to be purchased.

Mike Tirpak of Carbon Engineering said the track would be five-eighth of a mile. There will be a small sewage system for humans. A retention pond is planned for the center of the track so water can be saved to wet down the track.

Jim Smith said the barns would be approximately 80 by 200-feet each holding 60 horses.

Glenn Miller said the facility would be limited by track capacity. Horses will be on the track from sunup till 2 p.m. or less.

Methane will be made from the manure to generate electricity. He was not sure if it was state or federal but said the township would qualify for some revenue for the green project.

The horses would be washed frequently and the water cleaned and reused.

Planner Alan Beck said they would have to get a change of use for a highway occupancy permit even though plans include using the present driveway.

Deanna Cunfer said it is a good project for the area but there are some issues that should be cleared up before a plan is presented: an erosion and sedimentation plan, parking, an extra copy of the plan for the fire chief, if there will be perimeter fencing, waivers should be submitted with the plan, the township must see the single deed resulting from consolidation of the three lots, a nutrient management plan because it will fall under state concentrated animal feeding operation regulations,

Stearns said they see it as animal husbandry.

"It's a worthwhile venture. Just follow the ordinance," said Cunfer.

Resident Nancy Blaha asked if they would have down-facing lights and wanted to know how much water they would be using

AROCC is also looking at pastureland along Ben Salem Road.

Stearns said they would be applying for planning (the consolidation) and zoning (a special exception in the rural residential area) at the same time.

In public comment Pete Nowlan asked the planning commission to recommend rejection to the supervisors in the Lehigh Asphalt Paving and Constuction Co./Charles and Agnes Messina land development plan. He said there is nothing new in the newest plan presented. "I don't see why we should entertain an extension," he said.

Planner Joe Ehritz said the planning commission has always recommended approval of extensions but now it should recommend denial. There are several court decisions outstanding. The matter had gone through all the courts and the township prevailed. When a new plan was presented it was nearly the same.

"It is not fitting for a residential area," said Ehritz.

Cunfer said she is disappointed that the township has not heard from Lehigh Asphalt.

Beck said if the plan is denied by the supervisors it will be taken to court and lead to more fees. "I'm not in favor of dragging this out, but I don't want the township to have more costs," Beck said.

Ehritz said the East Penn Concerned Citizens will appeal if it is permitted, and Lehigh Asphalt has appealed everything.

Solicitor Jim Nanovic said if they recommended the extension it gives an additional six months with no costs. To date, the request for the six-month extension has been verbal and is required in writing. The verbal request can be ignored and, if received, a written one would be decided by the supervisors, Nanovic said the plan could be approved, conditionally approved or denied based on engineer Bruce Steigerwalt's letter.

Planners would feel more comfortable if a Commonwealth Court decision is received. That is expected to take about six months, said Nanovic.

Beck made a motion to recommend rejection of the plan based on the non-suitability of the proposed use, the court decisions and the previous township decisions.

Planners did not act on the verbal request for an extension of time.

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