Warriors Mark Township passes zoning ordinance

It’s official: Land development in Warriors Mark Township will now be guided by what some land owners consider a dirty word — zoning.
Last week, in a unanimous decision, the board of supervisors approved its proposed zoning ordinance, the product of over two years of research, surveys and headaches. The final approval did not come quickly, as a legion of townspeople from both Warriors Mark and Spruce Creek townships crowded into the municipal building to air its grievances. When all was said and done, public comment period lasted close to two hours, filled with commentary and opinions on both sides of the zoning issue.
“For the past two years, this board of supervisors has been working very hard, fielding various comments from the public, doing its research, looking for the best ways to protect this community and its residents from rampant growth,” said township solicitor Larry Clapper. “They have a very good engineer, and local developers have had to toe the line where development is concerned.
“This zoning ordinance is the product of all this hard work and diligence.”
Separate five-minute time allotments for public comment were afforded to all members of the packed house. The division between support and disapproval of the measure was almost an even 50/50 split. It seemed as though those who feared overdevelopment and the potential environmental impact of such were for passage of a zoning ordinance, while others, some with personal interests, were against it.
“I live in Spruce Creek Township,” said Robert Hartnett. “We have such a rich tradition of fishing in our area and a very fertile trout stream.
“We hope you understand that what happens in Warriors Mark Township also affects Spruce Creek. Every slab of concrete you lay, every square foot of asphalt, every roof, creates run off and every septic system that’s installed has the potential to pollute ground water in our region. We hope you consider these things when making a decision.”
“Let me ask you this,” said Warriors Mark Township land owner Gary Eyer, directing his comments to Mr. Hartnett. “Would you let me fish on your property?”
“It would depend on your attitude,” Hartnett replied.
“No, you wouldn’t,” Eyer returned. “And I wouldn’t let you build a house on my land, either. My family has paid taxes on my property for over 200 years. What gives this board the right to tell me what I can do on my own land? I know that in the past, all three of these supervisors sitting on this board have given up ground for building houses. No one gave them a hassle. Now, here comes this zoning. You’ve made your money. What’s going to happen to the value of the property designated as agricultural in this zoning ordinance? I’ll tell you what. It’s going to nose dive.
“I know all three of you guys (the supervisors) and thought you had more sense than this. I never thought you’d actually decide to put something like this in place.”
“These decisions were not made easily,” responded board chairman L. Stewart Neff, who clarified that he personally has never sold ground for any type of development. “Times are changing, and if we don’t do something now, we’re going to be in a situation where we won’t be able to stop out-of-control growth.
“That’s our goal here: To develop some sort of system to control unwanted growth.”
Clapper then spoke up, pointing out another positive that come along with a zoning ordinance.
“In the past, I’ve heard people speak about adult bookstores,” he said. “Did you know, the way things stand right now, one could open up right next to your house and there’s nothing that can be done about it? Your neighbor could open one right out of his basement, and if it’s done before a zoning ordinance is passed, that business will stay open, even after zoning is in place. Those businesses are grandfathered, which means the law does not apply to a business already in operation prior to the passage of an ordinance.
“With zoning, this type of thing can be controlled. This is just one example of the types of things this board is trying to address.”
After the unanimous “yes” vote was cast, very little reaction came from the crowd. The final Warriors Mark zoning map is inundated with green, “agricultural zones,” which are meant primarily for ag land preservation. There is an industrial zone to the far west of the map, very close to the county line, near Route 453. Yellow regions, which signify “rural residential zones,” are much more sparse than in previous versions of the map, while the red “village zone,” centered around the main town area of Warriors Mark, has remained virtually unchanged throughout the process.
The supervisors speculated that the entire zoning process, from preplanning to passage, cost the township roughly $25,000, a figure that was openly disputed by some members of the audience.
As the board moved on to the next item of business, Eyer left the meeting hall, acknowledged the board and said, “Thanks fellas.”