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Board voted for public safety

Published October 23. 2010 09:00AM

Dear Editor:

On Oct. 12, the Jim Thorpe Zoning Hearing Board (JTZHB) held a meeting to decide if a car wash proposed by Todd Mason would be approved or denied.

On Oct. 13, Channel 13 aired a short clip concerning the meeting. The clip showed the applicants lawyer basically stating that - if the Jim Thorpe Zoning Ordinance (JTZO) did not allow increased congestion on its streets, no new businesses would ever open in Jim Thorpe. He hinted that the ordinance was old and not progressive.

I submit he is wrong on all counts.

The ordinance was recently revised, and although some of the words are yesteryear, the concepts are as modern and up to date as any ordinance anywhere.

The JTZO states the specific purpose is: "to promote public health, SAFETY, morality and the general welfare - conserve and stabilize the value of property - and LESSEN CONGESTION on streets and highways."

Everyone accepts traffic volume has increased everywhere. Jim Thorpe is no exception. The key is not to eliminate congestion (an impossible task), but rather to lessen congestion with safety as the over riding concern.

A perfect example is Broadway and Susquehanna streets in Jim Thorpe. Go there on the weekend and they try to tell me Jim Thorpe isn't progressive. Yes, there is increased traffic and necessary congestion, but the issue of SAFETY has been dealt with by widening the intersection, modifying the traffic flow pattern and adding stop light changes.

A carwash on North Street with the exit/entrance adjacent to each other coming from an interior lot, with a questionable safe sight distance would significantly increase congestion and concurrently increase danger to every motorist on North Street, including Mr. Mason and his family.

At the meeting I tried to place one last fact into the record - it was objected to and based on the rule of law, I was not able to do so. In this public forum I can reveal it: Based on a study by the state of Hawaii, it takes a school bus, or a bus full of rafters 156 feet to stop when traveling 25 mph. The stopping distance from the top of the rise at North and Second to where a stopped car would be located trying to enter the carwash is about 125 feet. An insufficient distance for a buss full of children or rafters to stop to avoid a collision.

This is the point - based on the JTZO increased congestion with less safety won't work in Jim Thorpe - thanks to the modern concepts of the zoning ordinance.

Secondly, I was extremely proud of the JTZHB on numerous levels. I thank John Bernhard for recusing himself due to a possible "conflict of interest." I thank all three voting members (Elizabeth Mulligan) for their courage in voting based on public safety versus any political considerations. I thank Gregory Mousseau, the solicitor, for keeping me within "the limits of the laws" and at the same time providing me the "best" opportunity to present my case.

I used many sources to gather information and facts. I thank them all. I especially want to thank Chief Schatz from the Jim Thorpe Police Department and Louise McClafferty, the borough secretary, for the time, information, and help they provided me.

To the people who signed our petition and joined in our fight - as promised - your voice was heard - a zoning board listened and they responded to the need of safety on our streets and highways - they voted 3-0 to deny the request for a "special exception use" permit to build a carwash on North Street.

On Oct. 12, all motorists on North Street won a victory - their lives and property will not be endangered by a carwash because JTZHB had the courage to use its great "authority" - to vote with great "responsibility" and provide safety for all the citizens on the streets and highways of Jim Thorpe.

Terry Watto


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