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Washington Twp. Officials Hear Request to Amend Zoning
Written by Mary Gibbs Kershner
2019-11-26

Decision could make room for 30 modular homes

 

            Washington Township Board of Supervisors heard a request last week  from attorney Jeff Carver to amend the township zoning map to include a residential use along a section of Old Route 100 in Barto. 

            Currently, the area in question is zoned General Industrial (GI).  The request, if granted, would end a zoning appeal in Berks County Court of Common Pleas that involves the township, Carver's client, Diamond Disposal, and Thomas Palmer, an adjacent property owner to Diamond Disposal. 

            In October, 2018, Washington Township Zoning Board granted a variance with conditions to Diamond Disposal, a trash hauling business.  The business is located at 2132 A Old Route 100, Barto. 

            At the time several adjoining property owners, including Thomas Palmer, entered their appearance as "parties" to the zoning hearing.  They were considered to have legal standing at the zoning hearing because their properties were located within 500 feet of Diamond Disposal. 

            The neighbors were concerned about dust, noise and traffic generated by the business. 

            Additionally, the neighbors noted the six-acre property that had a non-conforming use was located in a watershed conservation district.  Thomas Palmer appealed the zoning board decision to the Berks County Court of Common Pleas.  The  appeal has not been heard by the court.  It is scheduled for a hearing in January 2020.

            In exchange for the township amending the industrial use in the area to include a residential use, Thomas Palmer would withdraw his appeal to the Court of Common Pleas of the township zoning board decision. 

            Carver explained most of the surrounding area near Diamond Disposal is residential.  Currently, Palmer's 17 acre property has a General Industrial (GI) zoning.  Carver explained the cost for the township to defend its zoning board decision in court would be much higher than an amendment that permits residential zoning in the area.  Carver noted if the township would consider Palmer's request, Diamond Disposal and Palmer would pay the township's costs to amend the zoning. 

            Township Supervisor James Roma questioned Palmer concerning what type of subdivision he would consider if the zoning were amended to include a residential use.  Palmer noted if the township would grant his request he would propose approximately 30 modular homes on his site.  He explained his property could provide a central location for the Eastern Berks Fire Company, as well.  However, the proposed Edison Walk Subdivision along Route 100 has 2-1/2 acres set aside for municipal use that potentially could be suitable for a central fire station. 

            Roma noted he did not know why the township would be involved in the matter.  Additionally, Roma explained he wanted to think the matter over.  Township Solicitor Joan London  recommended the Board of Supervisors enter the township as a "party" to Palmer's Common Pleas Court appeal, file an appeal of intervention with the court and support the decision of its zoning hearing board. 

            London explained those actions would enable the township to participate in any discussions at the Court of Common Pleas.  The Board of Supervisors agreed to follow its solicitor's instructions. 

            In addition, the Supervisors agreed they needed some time to consider the matter. 

            It is expected by the next Board of Supervisors meeting on December 19, 2019, the Supervisors will make a decision on how to proceed. 


 

 

 

 

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