CLEARFIELD – Much public interest was generated when Discovery House in Pike Township submitted a land development plan to construct a larger building after theirs burned in January.
Questions from the public poured in at the Clearfield Planning Department. Because of that, Jodi Brennan, planning director, provided a lesson of sorts to those in attendance at the most recent Clearfield County Planning Commission meeting.
Brennan said that educating the people of the county is a key part of the planning commission. “Planning commissions can provide a forum to discuss local issues and provide education and guidance that can be used to make sound land-use decisions.” She said that if communities want to regulate how land is used, whether for a convenience store or agricultural purposes, it must be done through a zoning ordinance. On the other hand, the planning commission deals with subdivision and land development ordinances. Those laws were created to outline “development standards such as assuring the site has sufficient water and sewer capacity, adequate public access and that storm water run-off from the development is managed to prevent flooding.”
There was a special circumstance with regard to the Discovery House’s proposed plan. Because of a law that prohibits methadone clinics being within 500 feet of residential areas and public parks, the planning commission denied the treatment center’s plan. While it does not prohibit the clinic from repairing their current building, it does not allow for the center to expand to treat more patients.
Brennan said that if communities do want to control how land is used, it is essential to create a zoning ordinance. “Zoning simply allows a municipality to determine where certain uses should occur in the municipality.
“If you have limited prime business development lands, you would want to protect them by designating them solely for that purpose.”
Brennan noted that only seven of Clearfield County’s 51 municipalities have any type of zoning.