Junkyard again heads Washington Twp. agenda
A number of people from the area of the Hanna Junkyard came to Washington Township's supervisors' meeting on Oct. 5 to continue a complaint from last month.
Zoning officer Justin Yaich said he and Solicitor John Ashley sent a letter about cars being stacked. The attorney wants to see what changes have been made since Alfred Hanna bought the property.
It was a civil case, said Trina Meixsell.
The court had specific findings, said Ashley.
"What have you done for me?" asked Meixsell. The junkyard is now against a fence between the two properties, which she said was open field when they built their house. She and one of the other people presented pictures to show that.
Ashley said it was years ago when the case went to the Court of Common Pleas and was then appealed to Commonwealth Court. As a result, he said, the township cannot enforce its three-year-old junkyard ordinance which calls for no expansion and a 30-foot buffer.
David Meixsell said the previous owner, Ron Silliman, followed the rules. That changed when Hanna took over, he said.
A neighbor, Mike Kelly, had fought Hanna in court and received a 15-foot buffer. David Meixsell said Yaich told him if they wanted the 15-feet they would have to fight for it.
Yaich said the ordinance says 30-feet but the court said that cannot be enforced.
Meixsell said Silliman was allowed to use only a portion of the land but Hanna applied for an expansion.
At that point a 15-minute executive session was called because of the possibility of litigation. When they returned Supervisor Josh Friebolin said they did not have any answer to give that night. The board will take it seriously but cannot offer a solution. Anyone who wanted to talk for the record was given three minutes to do so.
Cindy Altif said they had lived in the township since 1974. The land was open fields and they never saw a junk car. Twenty years ago they built a nice, new home and the value is less now. The rear view is a junkyard that may expand further - maybe buy out homes to expand.
Danny Altif asked if he could keep expanding by a variance.
Yaich said he can't expand property-wise beyond what he has now.
"We know they could maintain what Silliman did, but when it was resurveyed they brought the cars onto new property," said Altif. "There are 6-7-8 homes that have been devalued. If Silliman had cars there I wouldn't say anything. It came into view of a lot of homes."
Kelly Schafer said there were never cars near Meixsells. She worried about the environmental impact of all the cars. Silliman was well ordered, she said. Now rain washes gas, oil and parts of cars down the hill.
Yaich said the Department of Environmental Protection, Conservation District and the township engineer are studying the pollution issue. All he can look at is use of the land. He said the township will do everything in its power to help and will take into consideration all that was said.
Larry Buss asked, "What if our wells are contaminated?"
Ashley said that is the property owner's responsibility (Hanna).
Kathy Groller said perhaps they have to return each month on their own behalf. It is the obligation of the board to respond.
Zane Schafer said he thought as elected members they have to look at who they're fighting for, business or residents. "I hope you see residents are more important."
In other business: Bob Cox, Washington's representative to the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Committee, said $1 million had been received from the Environmental Protection Agency. It is administered by the Lehigh Valley Land Recycling Initiative and is to be used in the next 2-1/2 years.
The money will be given to prospective developers who have a business plan. Its purpose is to help fund environmental studies. Much of the money will be spent on brownfields. Cox said he would like to see more of the money used in rural areas rather than the cities.
For information contact Holly Edinger, (610) 266-7179 or HEdinger@lehighvalley.org.
The Halloween parade will be held Oct. 30 with a rain date of Nov. 6. Washington will close roads as necessary for the parade.
Trick or treat night is Oct. 27, 6-8 p.m. - the same time as Slatington and Walnutport.
A resolution was passed to permit online communication with the Department of Transportation for such things as liquid fuels applications.
Northern Valley Emergency Medical Services turned in a copy of its financial report for 2009 and will receive the budgeted amount of $3,000.
Ed Ziegler asked if anyone went to the compost meeting. He was told Supervisors Roy Dengler and Gerry Phillips attended. Ziegler said he was not allowed to enter.