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Questions submitted by the Save our Liberty Committee to the Liberty Township Supervisors, and their answers provide at the Public Meeting on Oct. 6th, 2003


Since mid-July the citizens of Liberty Township have had to deal with the real possibility that our community as it currently exists may change forever due to the Wormald Planned Residential Development (PRD). Recognizing that without an organized group of citizens to cross examine the developer and the witnesses testifying on the developer's behalf, you would hear only a one-sided testimony, thus the grass roots citizens association known as Save Our Liberty (SOL) was created and has grown in number. An important goal of the SOL organization is to promote communication between the residents/property owners and our elected officials. This is not a new idea as our country was founded on "open dialogue" at "town hall meetings" where citizens discussed any significant issues affecting their communities.

While public comment is permitted at the regularly scheduled Planning Commission and Supervisor meetings, citizens leave the meetings feeling frustrated because their questions have not been answered. Listed below is a list of questions that are of concern to all of us and we believe the citizens have a right to have these questions answered. (Note, all Township answers provided by Chairman Sites unless otherwise noted)

Question #1:

The Liberty Township Zoning Ordinance as amended in 1985 states that the property to be developed as a PRD must be under single ownership. While the Wormalds who submitted the Community of Liberty PRD on July 14, 2003 may now have an equity interest in the Crum, Dawson and Peloquin properties, it appears that they do not have an equity interest in nor control of all of the property shown on this plan.

  1. If that is so, why should the Township spend tax dollars to continue the hearings?
  2. Why should the application not be denied based on the ownership requirement not having been met?

Answer: Legally, they must continue the hearings.

Question #2:

The Liberty Township Zoning Ordinance requires an applicant of a PRD to submit a complete plan at the time of filing, thus allowing the review agencies ample time to review and submit their reports. The Traffic Assessment Report and the Water Feasibility Study for the Community of Liberty PRD were not submitted until the Supervisors meeting on September 2, 2003, fifty (50) days after the submission of the application and only six (6) days prior to the first night of scheduled hearings. We believe this submission constitutes a "rolling submission" which is not permitted under the existing Township Ordinances and also offers proof that the submission on July 14, 2003 was incomplete.

Did the Supervisors formally accept these documents from the applicant on September 2, 2003?

If yes --- have they been submitted to the Township Engineer for his review or to Adams County Planning & Development for their review?

If no --- shouldn't the application be denied due to the submission having been incomplete? Chairman Sites:

Answer:  They were informally received at the Sept. township meeting and formally received as evidence at the hearing. Both studies have been submitted to the township engineer but not to Adams County Planning. Whether or not this constitutes an incomplete and/or a rolling submission must wait until the hearings have been completed and will be answered in the finding of facts that will be part of the supervisors' decision.

(Wormald Attorney Zwally) - Both were submitted at the hearings as evidence.

Question #3:

At the September 2, 2003 Supervisors meeting, the Community of Liberty PRD applicant submitted a document containing four changes/variances to the current Zoning Ordinance which in effect would modify Section 7 of the Supplementary Data accompanying the Tentative Plan. A motion was duly made to accept this document and to advertise the changes pending approval from the Township Solicitor. What is the status of this motion?

Answer:  The four changes were not accepted.

Question #4:

At the September 2, 2003 Supervisors meeting, a citizen of the township requested the Supervisors make a motion to remove the PRD section from the existing Township Zoning Ordinance and to advertise the intent to make this change. A motion was duly made to this effect pending approval from the Township Solicitor.

What is the status of this motion?

Question #5:

The Township has received reports from William F. Hill & Associates, Inc., Adams County Planning & Development and from Liberty Township Planning Commission with respect to the Community of Liberty PRD.

Have these reports been formally or officially accepted by the Supervisors? Chairman Sites:

Answer:  All were formally accepted.

Question #6:

We understand the Wormald company has waived the right to have the hearings completed within 120 days but has not waived the 180 day decision requirement which puts a burden on the Township to hold four to six more hearings between now and early December so that you will have 30 days to review the testimony in the stenographer's report and render your decision at a public hearing by the 180 day deadline.

Is it your understanding that you must complete the hearings and render your decision by January 9, 2004? Chairman Sites:

Answer:  They will seek an extension if needed.

Question #7:

According to the article in the Saturday, October 4 Hanover Evening Sun, the Wormald Company has submitted an alternative plan which covers only the properties referred to as Section I in the Community of Liberty PRD submitted on July 14, 2003, but has not withdrawn the earlier plan. We believe the clock should not start ticking on the alternative plan until the plan submitted July 14, 2003 is either withdrawn or the supervisors have given their decision by the end of the 180 day period.

  1. Does the Township Secretary's taking the alternate plan constitute acceptance of its submission by the Township?
  2. Since there is a plan for this same property already in the midst of the hearing process, why should the Township accept an alternative plan that would start the clock ticking for another hearing process without requiring that the original plan be withdrawn?

Answer: The supervisors passed a motion stating that the plan has not been accepted and the clock is not ticking. The secretary merely received the plan.

(Wormald Attorney Zwally): Yes, the clock is ticking. It is permissible to have more than one plan for the same site.

Question #8:

We understand that the Township has certain official policies as well as written requirements regarding the submission of a subdivision plan and/or PRD.

  1. To whom does an applicant submit a subdivision plan or a PRD and how many days prior to a Planning Commission meeting must the plan be submitted in order to give the commission members time to review the plan and to submit it to Adams County Planning & Development and the Township Engineer?
  2. When does the clock start ticking with respect to approval or denial of a plan __ when received by the secretary of the Planning Commission or the Township? __ when the fees are paid? __ when officially reviewed at the Planning Commission meeting?
  3. What fees are charged to the applicant at the time a subdivision plan or PRD is submitted to the township?
  4. Does the Township have a provision to collect reimbursement from the land owner or developer for any of the review costs? If not, why should such not be implemented to the extent allowed by law?

Answer:  Wormald will pay for engineering and county review this time just like last time. The township solicitor's fees will be passed through to Wormald, too.

Question #9:

From time to time during the past several years the Township has contemplated passing a building code per the state mandate, but none has been adopted to date presumably because the state has waivered on the date by which it must be adopted and because PA Dept. of Labor & Industry has not implemented a statewide inspection. However, many other municipalities have not waited for the state __ even Fairfield Borough, which is about 1/3 the size of Liberty Township, has adopted the BOCA code and has hired Ed Strevig to do the required inspections to ensure that the citizens of the Borough are protected from poor workmanship. Some municipalities collect the exact fees charged by the inspector and others collect the inspector's fee plus a small additional fee to help cover the municipality's overhead.

What reasons do any of you have for not wanting to adopt the BOCA building code, hire an inspector, and pass the costs of the inspections on to the property owner/developer?

Answer: The solicitor advised the supervisors not to accept the BOCA code (now called the "general code") until the state decides on all aspects of it. Further questions can be brought up at the next meeting.

Of course, most Liberty Township residents are also concerned about important issues in connection with water, sewer, wetlands, roads, schools, traffic congestion, the environment, our quality of life and higher taxes. The neighboring municipalities within Fairfield Area School District as well as the town of Emmitsburg share our concerns. There are many more questions to be asked on these issues that will be asked when appropriate.

We are counting on your, our elected officials, to listen to our concerns and to answer our questions.



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