Tuesday, January 22, 2019


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Two Hearings Slated for Upper Hanover Zoning Board
Written by Candace Perry, Correspondent

            A substance abuse recovery home and a small auto body shop wanting to operate in Upper Hanover residential areas are scheduled to come before the township zoning hearing board on January 17.

            The Upper Hanover Board of Supervisors heard presentations about the proposed businesses at its meeting on Tuesday.

            Firely Enterprises of Harleysville has filed an application for an exception to the ordinance for a group home in a zoned residential. The company wants to open a home for recovering opioid abusers at 2573 Geryville Pike. Tim Jones, representing the firm, presented information on the company and its plans for the residence.

            Jones said that Firely Enterprises operated group homes for "medically fragile" children and adults, but this planned facility would be the company's first foray into substance abuse treatment. He noted that the home would be similar to those run by Liberty Ministries, but would take clients referred by physicians and hospitals, and possibly by the courts, but not individuals coming from incarceration.

            Jones said the home would accommodate four to six female clients and would offer job training and other activities to "get away from distractions" and keep them busy. He said that the program was Christian-based and was not-for-profit.

            He said the residence would be staffed by a registered nurse, certified nursing assistants and trained security, and drug sniffing dogs would be utilized.

            Supervisor Richard Fain made a motion to rescind the board's previous vote to send township solicitor to oppose the facility during the zoning hearing, and Chairman Gene Fried seconded it. Supervisors Steve Rothenberger, Dorothy Diehl and Ben Fiorito voted to stick with the previous decision and send the solicitor to the meeting.

            The other applicant was township resident Paul Houseknecht of Valley Road who wants to operate a small auto body repair shop in the two car garage on his property. He said that no body work would be done at the business. Work would include oil changes, alternators, batteries and other similar types of repairs, by appointment only.

            He said that noise might be perceived as a potential issue, but added that the garage is heavily insulated and work would be done with the door closed.

            Houseknecht said he sent 70 letters to residents in the neighborhood and discussed the plan with neighbors on his cul-de-sac. No one opposed the shop, he said.

            Fiorito was concerned about setting a precedent, saying that the township already had extensive problems with a property owner who was operating an auto repair shop and junkyard on Kutztown Road. Solicitor Joseph Bresnan said that it would not be a legal precedent with the zoning hearing board.

            Bresnan also said that the township could apply limitations in the variance.

            Diehl was concerned about disposal of hazardous materials; Houseknecht said that he would be disposing of them at Autozone, which accepts motor oil, antifreeze and other materials.

            The planning commission did not a stance on the application, and supervisor Rich Fain recommended the supervisors do likewise. "I don't think it's our place. It's up to the zoning hearing board," he said.


            In planning commission news, Stefan Laessig was appointed to a new term ending December 31, 2021.

            Solicitor Bresnan reported that there is no longer outstanding litigation on the middle school project.





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