BEAR CREEK TWP. – The state Environmental Hearing Board granted summary judgment to the state Department of Environmental Protection on Monday in the township’s case, township solicitor Bill Vinsko announced at Monday night’s board of supervisors meeting, which he said could “potentially” force the township to build a costly public sewage-treatment facility.
Noting that the township hasn’t updated its Act 537 plan since 1987, the hearing board concluded that the township must develop a new plan in accordance with state law and DEP orders.
Vinsko planned within the next two days to set up a meeting between the supervisors and DEP officials to discuss options. “It’s our job to prove that we don’t need” a treatment facility, he said.
That news came late Monday evening, after the board quickly opened and closed two other meetings to accept public comment and then vote on an updated zoning ordinance. During public comment, Ed Shoener, a consultant for Energy Unlimited, a company that has repeatedly attempted to build a wind-turbine facility near Crystal Lake, asked the township to consider the state’s model wind ordinance and increase the allowed turbine height from 385 feet to 500 feet. The proposed ordinance actually reduced that height to 350 feet.
Ken Klemow, a Wilkes University professor, submitted comments on the wind ordinance that suggest more-precise language, such as using “aquatic” instead of “marine” to describe water-related issues. “My interest is to make sure that good science is applied to public business,” he said.
Jack Varaly, a zoning consultant, said the model ordinance sets “minimum standards” and that the ordinance has actually been in effect since a 2006 amendment.
The board voted unanimously to approve the zoning map and ordinance.
At the subsequent supervisors’ meeting, Karen Hrabousky cited recent confusions with emergency responders and inquired if the township could hire full-time paramedics and firefighters, for which she said she’d be willing to pay extra taxes. “We just don’t have enough safety up here,” she said.
The board also announced that, even though it’s adjacent to Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, the township would not be receiving any economic-development money from the gambling proceeds during this inaugural bid year. They pledged to solicit public input for next year’s proposals.
To that end, many people made suggestions and inquired about other issues in the township, such as traffic conditions on state Route 115 and residential construction at the township’s edges that it might not have approved.
By Rory Sweeney
12 February 2008
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