A Closer Look at LT’s Zoning/Code Meeting

Members of the Lawrence Township Supervisors, Zoning Board and Planning Commission got together Thursday evening to begin looking at what the zoning laws needed done.

Questions came up like: Did the township need more zone types of zoning, or did the current zones needed usages added or removed? What could the township do to control where people can drill wells for gas?

So far it doesn’t look like there will be any new types of zoning arrangements. There are currently four residential zone types, two industrial, two commercial, village, rural agriculture and “local economic revitalization tax assistance areas” with most of the township categorized as rural agriculture.

Township Solicitor James Naddeo proposed using conditional use more. Conditional use was described as allowing more control over a development if the township felt the need to. In contrast zoning has everything laid out in black and white.

“I like that idea. Sometimes something come up, but you want more control over it,” said Naddeo.

An addition to sub-vision procedure that is coming down the line will be that of a mandatory developer’s agreement for larger subdivision projects. These agreements are intended to be a form of protection to the municipality if a developer’s project falls through. It will be a standard agreement, and will include developers paying for any engineering reviews done.

In response to complaints being made to the municipality the topic of outdoor furnaces came up. As of the moment the closest ordinance on the books to dealing with furnaces, according to Code Enforcement Officer Zachary Lawhead, is one that forbids starting fires on township roads.

After discussing the complaints the representatives from each of the three groups felt that most of the problems stemmed from a root cause; people either burning garbage or not using manufacturer’s recommended flue heights. The furnaces when used properly rarely cause complaint.

As such an ordinance requiring furnaces to simply follow the recommended manufacturer’s installation and maintenance should solve most problems. It would also prevent potentially conflicting rules for outdoor furnaces, corn burners, wood burners, etc.

This lead a discussion regarding well drilling. While the township has regulations in place for mining it lacks anything for other energy sources.
Chairman William Lawhead explained the township already looked into windmills, and believes they are already well enforced by higher levels of government, and such regulations forbid placement of a windmill in most of the township as is. They require four to five acres for the installation process. They can’t be within six nautical miles of an airport. They are also banned in state game lands.

On the issue of drilling into the Marsellas shale Naddeo explained what the township is able to do. According to Naddeo, recent Supreme Court rulings forbid the township from regulating how anyone can drill wells for gas or water, but believed that the rulings gave municipalities the ability to regulate where drilling can occur.

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