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Township appeals cargo airport decision

Published September 07. 2012 05:02PM

A zoning appeal notice was filed in the Schuylkill County Court by East Union Township to have the county court deny a decision made recently by the Schuylkill County Zoning Hearing Board and deny the application by Gladstone Partners, LP, of Pittsburgh, for special exception approval under the county zoning law to construct and operate a cargo airport on property located in East Union Township.

After more than a year's hearing the county zoning hearing board last month rendered a decision approving the special exception to the county zoning law to allow Gladstone to construct the airport. Gladstone has an option on a large tract of land owned by Butler Enterprises that it desires to develop into a commercial airport with related facilities and business park. (During the hearings Gladstone amended its application eliminating the request for a business park, receiving approval to build a cargo airport).

The petition appealing the ruling claims the township now has its own zoning hearing board which supersedes the county board from any decision on land in East Union Township. The municipal board became active June 11, 2009, however, the prior day, June 10, Gladstone filed its application to the county zoning office which refused to act on its application for special exception. Gladstone than appealed to the county court challenging the validity of the township ordinance. Judge John E. Domalakes remanded the matter to the county zoning hearing board for a decision either to proceed with the zoning process or to decline to do so and formally express its reason for not proceeding under the county zoning ordinance.

In May 2011 the county zoning hearing board announced its decision that it had jurisdiction to hear the special application of Gladstone and proceeded to hold monthly hearing and finally making a decision in August 2012.

In its appeal the township claims the zoning board's decision that it had jurisdiction was arbitrary, capricious and abusive in discretion and contrary to the law because Gladstone's appeal was not timely, the court and the zoning board erred in rulings on jurisdiction, Gladstone's application was not complete because it failed to comply with the mandates of the county zoning ordinance, such as providing a survey, a parking plan and information necessary to permit the zoning officer to review the requests for compliance with the dimensional and supplemental regulations of the zoning ordinance, thereby requiring Gladstone to reapply now under the current township zoning ordinance.

The township also claims the airport will be detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare of its residents in a way not normally expected from that type of use. That it would cause substantial harm to the public health, safety and welfare, including but not limited to, affecting, materially and adversely, the cable television services provided by Service Electric and thus adversely effect the financial viability and operation of the cable service to its customers in the township.

There was a dispute at the hearing as to the size of the property to be used for the airport. Gladstone claimed 4,300 acres while others claimed it was 4,500 acres.

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