Townships updating zoning laws
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Representatives from Towamensing Township and Lower Towamensing Township have formed an implementation agreement to rezone their SALDO and zoning ordinances. Pictured are (l-r) Connie Bieling, Towamensing, Penny Kleintop, Towamensing, Angela Farrell, Lower Towamensing, and Ron Walbert, Lower Towamensing.
For some, the year 1978 may seem like just yesterday.
That also happens to be the last time Lower Towamensing Township's zoning ordinance was updated, which by today's standards, marks an eternity.
With an eye toward the future, Lower Towamensing and Towamensing townships have formed an implementation agreement in conjunction with the Palmerton Area Comprehensive Plan.
Ron Walbert, chairman of the Lower Towamensing Township board of supervisors, said the time to update its zoning and Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (SALDO) is long overdue.
"We realize the need to update our zoning and SALDO," Walbert said. "We have such a great working relationship with Towamensing."
The agreement costs $32,000 - $16,000 for both townships - and represents a $4,000 savings per township, which Walbert said is a "win for the taxpayers."
"This is the future of government," he said. "We'd like to be leading the charge, not bringing up the rear."
Penny Kleintop, chairwoman of the Towamensing Township board of supervisors, said Towamensing is "excited" to be a part of the plan.
Comprehensive plan committee member Roy Christman said the agreement has proved beneficial for both parties.
"We're getting to know each other; they're learning who we are, and they know who you are," Christman said. "I think that really makes problem-solving easier; working really closely."
Comprehensive plan committee member Connie Bieling said it took foresight to form the implementation agreement.
"I think we got the ball rolling in the township," Bieling said. "We kind of got the ball rolling in the [Carbon] county."
Since the formation of the Palmerton Area Comprehensive Plan, the Western Carbon County and the Central Carbon County Comprehensive Plans have been created.
Walbert said meetings with Hanover Engineering, the firm in charge of the rezoning, will be open to the public.
Christman said the implementation agreement was a yearlong process.
"The townships will set up committees, and be discussing SALDO and zoning ordinances in both townships," Christman said. "We want a more streamlined ordinance."
In the end, Christman said both townships should be consistent with the comprehensive plan.
Comprehensive plan committee member Angela Farrell said the townships "want to be proactive, rather than reactive to the community with a common-sense approach."
In March 2009, the comprehensive plan was approved for Palmerton, Bowmanstown, Towamensing Township and Lower Towamensing Township.