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Towamensing, Lower Towamensing hold ordinance update workshop

Published September 27. 2011 05:01PM

The scope of work to be covered by the ordinance update committee in Towamensing and Lower Towamensing will be to update the subdivision and land development and zoning ordinances. Earth disturbance and storm water will be considered as separate issues.

Hanover's Steve Dellinger said a single ordinance will be tailored for both townships and then there will be individual meetings in each township to consider things specific to that area.

Guy Seifert asked if there was any opposition from the board as there had been originally.

Pete Turk said, "I'm a great one for unity and working together making it easier on the zoning officers and contractors." He said the ordinances they come up with should not apply only to 2012 but to 2020.

Seifert said Towamensing's ordinance mandates street lights but the requirement is always waived.

Duane Dellicker said the layout is what is important. Palmerton and Bowmanstown have charts with headers that can be changed as needed. He said TDR (transferable development rights) encourages development that is not on the best farmland.

Barb Green said on this side of the mountain development after development is not too far away.

Towamensing has neither water nor sewer so high density housing is not realistic.

Turk said his perception is that Towamensing has more developable land.

Connie Bieling said a developer can always put in a private sewer system.

Angela Farrell would like to see more Planned Residential Developments which set aside some land and have higher density on the remainder.

Dellinger said no one is buying now and Seifert said that gives the townships a break to develop plans.

Turk said consistent zones are necessary where the township borders meet. Green said much of the boundary is conservation on both sides. Rodney George said where there are different requirements on each side of a boundary, Towamensing goes with the higher standard.

The Palmerton Comprehensive Plan covers four municipalities and they will all have to be mapped. Meinhart said the maps should be termed "future land use maps."

Roy Christman said he wants to hear about a work plan.

Dellinger said the types of zoning districts have to be highlighted, along with whether they will have conditional or special exception uses. The zoning should be done first and then the subdivision ordinance.

He will look at the SALDO and come up with suggestions and provide a draft the committee can respond to.

Meinhart said quality and quantity have to be considered when usable water is discussed. She said Towamensing's watershed has not been studied.

Jill Smith, from Hanover, said the new Department of Environmental Protection regulations are coming taking into account a two-year storm. Seifert said the federal government is also revamping water.

Ron Walbert asked if there was any homework the individual townships can do that will help the process. Dellinger said the most helpful thing is to make lists of what is not covered and things that should be. Angela Farrell said an airport ordinance is needed.

Meinhart quickly said commercial solar and wind development are not covered, and Turk added outdoor wood burners. Dellinger said the state has new regulations for wood burners, and Meinhart added that they should be covered as a separate matter.

Christman asked if the fact that each township will no longer have to zone for every use means that changes can be made to the industrial use, with whatever is already there being grandfathered.

Seifert said that would reduce the value of the land if it is changed from industrial to residential.

Turk said Towamensing has a growth area along Route 209, but Towamensing residents quickly said they do not want one long strip mall there. The equivalent area in Lower Towamensing Township would be along Little Gap Road.

Dellinger said buffer zones are needed along water courses. If they do not put them in eventually DEP will mandate them.

Seifert said there are people trying to develop land that shouldn't be developed.

To maintain the rural agriculture feeling of the townships, farm-based businesses will have to be allowed on farms.

Dellecker asked what happens when new people buy preserved land. It follows with the deed but Turk said restrictions are eventually left out of the deeds.

Seifert said someone will find a way to buy them without the preservation. There has to be a way to enforce that permanently.

Future meetings are scheduled for Oct. 24, Lower Towamensing; Nov. 21, Towamensing; Dec. 19, Lower Towamensing and Jan. 23, Towamensing, all at 6 p.m.

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