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Schuylkill Co. commissioners OK zoning ordinance changes

POTTSVILLE – Public opinion and a legal deadline combined to influence the Schuylkill County commissioners to vote Wednesday to adopt a curative amendment to the zoning ordinance to regulate medical marijuana, natural gas compressors and wind turbines.

The 2-0 vote – Commissioner Frank J. Staudenmeier was absent – creates specific zones in municipalities subject to county zoning rules where those facilities can be built, Assistant County Solicitor Glenn Roth said after the commissioners meeting, which attracted about 20 spectators.

“It’s going to create specific uses for medical marijuana growing facilities and distribution facilities in the county,” Roth said. “It also creates a use and regulates natural gas compressor stations. It’s (also) for the use and regulation of wind turbines.”

Most of the spectators supported the amendment, and some of them spoke before the commissioners’ vote.

“Please take us into consideration,” Tower City Borough Councilwoman Christine Reiner said.

Approval applauded

Porter Twp. resident Virginia Morton has been a vocal proponent of the curative amendment and applauded its approval.

“These provisions are going into effect and I’m tickled. I know how many people have been concerned,” Morton, of Tower City, said by phone Wednesday.

She does not believe the provisions are so restrictive they will limit wind turbines all together in the county.

“I believe firmly that any responsible wind company will go forward. If other wind projects are being considered in the county, they will be able to comply within those limits,” Morton said.

Another county resident supported the commissioner’s action.

“We had our fingers crossed,” Sue Tallman, also of Porter Twp., said. “We’re very pleased with what the commissioners have decided to do, which will help with any future oversight. A lot of work and effort was put into this by a lot of people, and I hope the curative amendment is effective.”

‘Needed to have’

County officials said the amendment was the product of a lot of information and effort from a lot of people.

Commissioners Chairman George F. Halcovage Jr. said he was pleased with the amount of work put in by the planning commission and public.

“It’s something we felt we needed to have,” he said.

County Administrator Gary R. Bender said everyone did their part in creating what he thinks is an amendment that is good for the county.

“It was a lot of work. I think everybody did a very nice job,” he said.