Lake Twp. wants zoning control

First Posted: 3/12/2014

They’ve got their eyes on community growth.

As Lake Township supervisors strategize on how to stop an industrial waste facility from being constructed on a piece of property near Meeker Outlet Road, they agreed Wednesday to seek out a citizens’ committee, one that would discover if taking zoning authority is in the township’s best interest.

“The question is: do we want the growth that happens in our township to be controlled by the county seat, or do we want to take that upon ourselves?” recently-elected supervisor Bob Pace said. “And if we can, can we afford to do it?”

Like 28 of Luzerne County’s 76 municipalities, the township’s zoning matters are handled by the county planning commission and the county’s zoning hearing board.

The township’s decision to investigate arrives at a time when the county zoning hearing board is to consider a variance request for an industrial waste facility in Lake Township. Berwick-based company Waveco Energy Services and its affiliates have applied for the variance and also a waste management permit through the Department of Environmental Protection.

Waveco proposes to use the site to store and recycle water used in the natural gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing. The variance would allow the site to be built on land currently zoned for agriculture.

The county zoning hearing board is to hear Waveco’s argument at its June 3 meeting.

Township Solicitor Mark McNealis encouraged the 25-plus residents attending, but he warned about taking on the extra responsibility on Waveco’s account.

“I don’t think that should be done as a knee-jerk reaction to the fact that there’s an application down at the county,” McNealis said. “Even if Waveco wasn’t on the table at this point, it’s something that any community should consider.”

If the applications proceed, the county will probably hear Waveco plead its case, McNealis said, even if Lake Township could take control of its zoning before June 3. But the attorney questioned whether the variance request would even clear the hearing board.

“The law indicates (a variance) should only be granted in exceptional circumstances. They have to establish hardship. None of that exists here,” McNealis said.

In other business:

• A spokesman from McLane Associates, a Scranton engineering firm, asked supervisors and residents Wednesday if they had any initial concerns or questions about a recreation trail project.

McLane is running a feasibility study for the Anthracite Scenic Trails Association and initial drawings show the trail could cut through eastern parts of the township nearest Harveys Lake. ASTA is to contact all property owners along the proposed trail’s path.

• Thanks to Pennsylvania’s new transportation laws, Lake Township received an 8 percent increase in its liquid fuels allotment and received $86,080 at the beginning of the month.

• The township’s spring clean-up date has been moved to June 14 to give more time for folks to recover from the long and frigid winter.

• Williams pipeline company is looking to add another 42-inch diameter gas main along an existing pipeline that cuts through the township’s southern half. The expansion is part of the Atlantic Sunrise project for Williams Transcontinental Pipeline.

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