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Carbon officials seek time extension on Packerton Yards RR crossing

Published October 07. 2011 05:01PM

Carbon County officials are hitting more roadblocks with the proposed Packerton Business Park project.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, the board voted to authorize a petition to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission asking for a time extension on the railroad crossing at Packerton Yards.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, said that the original order gave the county 10 months to get the project done, but the delayed approval by Mahoning Township and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has forced the county to delay the project again.

O'Gurek said the county's responsibility is to "expand the roadway and the approaches and install warning signs and pavement markings on the road going into Packerton Yards and the crossing," but right now they do not have approval to move forward with the road or crossing improvements.

"Until we get access to Packerton Yards by way of Mahoning Township's Subdivision and Land Development Plan approval and PennDOT's Highway Occupancy Permit, we can't put the road in there."

He noted that the county has been working to rectify any questions the two entities have about the crossing.

"Our engineer Ron Tirpak has finalized the plans for the access road and PennDOT had indicated that it is likely to be approved now that we reached an agreement."

When asked by a reporter if the project is dependent on one municipality, O'Gurek responded, "We are."

"If Mahoning Township opts not to give us a waiver of their Land Development ordinance, which calls for a radius of the road, the turning distance going down to there, this project will be over and there will be no development because we have one access into there and that is going through Packerton Dam Road."

He noted that the waiver in question is because the road would not have the turning distance required in the township's Land Development ordinance.

O'Gurek also added that Mahoning has given conditional plan approval to some points of the project, but not others because of questions, including if the county would be able to purchase the necessary land from owner Joseph Marks.

O'Gurek said that they spoke with Marks and he has signed a consent agreement, stating that he would be willing to sell the needed land to the county for the access road. That information has been submitted to the township.

The Packerton Business Park project has been in the works since 2003, when Commissioners O'Gurek and Charles Getz began the plan to purchase the 59-acre site, which stretches between Mahoning Township and Lehighton and create an industrial park for businesses.

Since then, the county has worked to secure over $4 million in state and federal funding for the development project, but has not been able to begin preparing the site because approval from three entities were needed PennDOT, Mahoning Township and Lehighton.

Earlier this year, after Lehighton initially rejected the subdivision plans, the county appealed the decision to court and it was overturned.

"It's been drawn out long enough," O'Gurek said of the project delays. "We can't put a crossing in there until we get a road, and we can't get a road in there until we get a permit, and we can't get a permit until we get a subdivision, and on and on and on."

He said that he hopes to receive the permit from PennDOT soon, so that Mahoning Township could have the remaining information it needs before it votes on the project.

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