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E. Penn sets a deadline

Published June 04. 2013 05:02PM

East Penn Township supervisors have drawn a line in the sand, and a line in the rock.

During their meeting Monday, they let residents know they've drawn a line in the sand for township business owner Clair Troxell, giving him until July 30 to clean up his property. Chairman Dean Kercsmar said he met with Troxell on Memorial Day.

"I explained to him, you have to make this property look like it should look," Kercsmar said. "No more games, you gotta make it right it's been too long, too much, no more."

The township's zoning violation fines against business Troxell total $624,500. He has been cited and fined for three separate zoning violations: for storing commercial vehicles at a building previously used as a schoolhouse and community center, for raising pigs on a property along Route 895, and for using a property to store junk, tires and scrap metals. Troxell challenged the zoning ordinances and fines in the Court of Common Pleas of Carbon County, and also the Commonwealth Court, which affirmed the fines.

In recent months, Troxell has made a $2,500 payment against the fines. If he doesn't take action to clean up the property by the July 30 deadline, the supervisors will direct township solicitor James Nanovic to execute against Troxell's property.

Supervisors drew a line in the rock for Lehigh Asphalt Paving and Construction Co., Tamaqua. The company has filed a challenge to the township's 2009 zoning ordinance regarding mining and excavation, and that case is pending in the Court of Common Pleas, Carbon County.

Lehigh Asphalt seeks to expand a five-acre quarry operation located within the boundaries of a 114-acre parcel on Hollow Road, which is owned by Charles and Agnes Messina. The parcel includes 64 acres on the west side of Hollow Road and 50 acres on the east side, which is where the five-acre quarry is located.

The township's original zoning ordinance was enacted in 1996 and amended three times (2000, 2001 and 2005) before being redefined and readopted in 2009. During the meeting Monday, the supervisors revealed that Lehigh Asphalt has offered to drop the court case if the township would redact the 2009 ordinance and return to its 1996 ordinance.

During the meeting, five citizens spoke in opposition to expansion of the quarry. The supervisors said they would not sign off on Lehigh Asphalt's request to nullify the 2009 ordinance and return to the 1996 ordinance.

"Let the judge decide," township solicitor James Nanovic said.

According to the 2009 ordinance, mining and excavation operations are considered temporary uses of land and permitted only by Special Exception. In 2009, East Penn Township's Zoning and Hearing Board denied Lehigh Asphalt's Special Exception request. The company challenged that decision in the Court of Common Pleas of Carbon County, the Commonwealth Court and the Supreme Court, losing each time. Nanovic represented the township at each level.

Lehigh Asphalt is not appealing the Supreme Court decision. Instead, the company is challenging the validity of the township's zoning ordinance, asserting that the ordinance prevents them from expanding their mining and excavation operations.

In other action, the supervisors formally thanked residents David Bryfogle and Frank Bokan for their work on the Veteran's Memorial at Marvin Gardens.

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