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Packerton Yards waivers needed

Published February 14. 2012 05:01PM

Carbon County's Packerton Yards project cannot move forward without the waivers the commissioners are seeking from Mahoning Township. And it could cost the county grant money which could lead to a loss of jobs and usability of the property, County Commissioner Chairman Wayne Nothstein told supervisors at their meeting last night.

He divulged that two prospective tenants have approached him since last month's appearance, an industrial prospect and a possible commercial one.

"We need access of the property to move forward and we need the waivers to get the access, so I'm here to know what we can do," said Nothstein. "What do you require from the county?"

Chairman John Wieczorek answered Nothstein with a question of his own.

"You cannot move anything forward without securing waivers?" he asked.

"I don't want (the county) to spend money on the property if we cannot get waivers to gain access to the property," Nothstein said. He added that the county has already spent $1.4 million on the former railroad yard.

"Aren't some of these waivers regarding the Martz property which the county does not own yet," asked Supervisor Franklin Ruch.

Nothstein acknowledged that the Martz property is involved but pointed out that if the county was forced to abandon the project, it would impact the work done and it may make it difficult to start over from the beginning.

"I want you to know that since the last meeting, two individuals with business interest in the property have approached me about developing lots at the Yards. One is seeking to put in a plant that would create 100 to 130 jobs, while the other is discussing a tourism-related use," Nothstein revealed.

Ruch was a bit taken aback.

"Last month when you were here and I suggested that, you told me a tourism industry-related use wouldn't work on that property. Now you are telling us that is one of the possible tenants," said Ruch.

"The area is currently zoned industrial so the person would need to get a zoning change," Nothstein answered "I do not believe that is in the county's interest to pursue (that type of change), but they would need to take care of that change."

Wieczorek said he would recommend asking the planning commission to tell the supervisors what they would recommend to do with regard to the waivers at their next meeting and the commissioners could follow up at the next meeting.

Supervisor Bruce Steigerwalt, who is also the vice chairman of the township's planning commission, shook his head before responding that the planning commission had already looked at these waivers and provided their recommendations already.

"The planning commission is pretty much set in what they wanted (to see) to grant the recommendations," Steigerwalt said. "There are seven conditions they placed on the center line radii waiver and the center line grading, but they are firm on the sidewalk issue."

The sidewalk waiver had been discussed at other meetings and the sentiment against recommending it by the planning commission apparently stemmed from ensuring people are safe walking within the development as well as to and from the project grounds.

According to the discussion between supervisors and Nothstein, the other waivers due to the grading and the radii for the centerline deal with lines of sight and turning radii into and out of the development. One concern mentioned several months ago was whether northbound trucks could safely turn into the property without crossing the center line.

Wieczorek asked Nothstein if that data was ever provided to the township's engineer. Nothstein said he believed the model was given.

County project engineer Ron Tirpak confirmed that the township was given the desired documentation and added that the documents proved a northbound truck can make the turns without crossing any center lines in the development.

Solicitor Tom Nanovic suggested to Wieczorek that he request a summary list of the conditions for granting the waivers from the planning commission at its next meeting, so that when the township meets in two weeks they can act upon the requests.

Ruch suggested that he might attend the commissioners meeting next week so he can hear what the planners have to say first hand.

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