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Hereford Zoning Board Holds Round Two of Hearing
Written by Candace Perry, Correspondent

            A little chill in the air did not stop Hereford residents from attending the second hearing with the Township Zoning Hearing Board in the township garage on Monday, November 16 for an application by Habitats of Hope LLC.

            Some new information came to light during this round of the hearing, when attorney Allen R. Shollenberger, representing Habitats of Hope, questioned witness Tim Purcell, who is the director of finance for the company and other affiliated companies.

            Habitats of Hope is challenging the township zoning ordinance as discriminatory under the Fair Housing Act for their proposed transitional housing for females recovering from substance abuse, to be located in the former Landhaven Bed and Breakfast on Huffs Church Road. The Hereford Zoning ordinance allows for five unrelated people to live together in the same dwelling.

            In Shollenberger's questioning of Purcell, regarding the number of residents that the company was looking to accommodate, Purcell answered 12 - a decrease from 16 in the original application. Later in the meeting Shollenberger stated that the decrease in number was not "a calculated move" and that the change was due to information received from the township regarding the on-lot septic system.

            Purcell responded to questions about lowering the number further from board member Timothy Haas about whether Purcell's company could further lower the number and raise the fee from the planned $2,000 per month for each resident.

            He replied, "It's possible."

            Township attorney Eugene Orlando called his first witness, Jennifer Van Dyke, the township's engineer. Van Dyke addressed the septic system specifically, noting that the existing septic system, which was installed approximately 20 years ago, was designed for 700 gallons a day. The definition of transitional housing from the DEP calls it a "rooming house" which requires more gallons per day than a bed and breakfast.

            Zoning hearing board members and residents also voiced their concerns about oversight of the facility, as transitional housing does not require licensing.  One neighbor to the property, a healthcare professional, questioned whether the facility would have any licensed medical professionals on staff.

            She noted that there was "a lot of apprehension in the community."    

            "We'd all feel better if there was some sort of certifying body," she added.

            Zoning Hearing Board member Gordon McAlpin stated, "I don't see oversight that would regulate the facility - no license, no way to inspect, no way to check. Is there any way for the township to look inside the program?"

            "The township is virtually powerless," he said.

            After both sides rested, zoning board attorney Elizabeth Magovern said that the board would deliberate and announce its decision at a hearing on Wednesday, February 17, 2021, at 6 p.m. in the township board room.





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