First Posted: 11/11/2014

At the Clarks Summit Borough council meeting Nov. 5, numerous Clarks Summit residents expressed concern regarding Ordinance 2014-05 Curative Zoning Amendment at 3 Front St.

Charles Hibble of Weichert Realtors requested Ordinance 2014-05 for a zoning amendment which would change 3 Front St. from an R1, or single family home property, to an RP Zone which may have commercial use.

The property on Front Street is currently zoned as an R1 single family, residential property. Changing the property to an RP Zone would mean “the property is residential, with the conditional use of professional offices,” according to Borough Manager Virginia Kehoe.

Hibble told council if the ordinance is passed, his plans include adding a professional office to the first floor, and high-end apartments on the second and third floors, with a parking lot in between the garage and the house.

Dale Otto, Clarks Summit, told council he was concerned whether the passage of Ordinance 2014-05 may cause the remainder of the residential neighborhood to “follow suit,” and create safety concerts with traffic.

“I think a commercial situation could possibly leave the door open for other ones, and could be a detriment,” said Otto.

Hibble told council he shared his plans with other businesses across the street from the property and other residents who had no problem with his plans to develop the property. Hibble indicated residents who supported the plans were present at the meeting. They did not address council publicly.

“The improved value is it can only help the neighborhood,” said Hibble.

Clarks Summit resident Kelly Arp also addressed council with objections to property including her back yard would then face the proposed parking lot. “It’s purely a residential neighborhood,” she said.

Arp gave council 27 signatures she collected from residents opposing the passage of the ordinance. She said she planned on trying to collect more signatures from other concerned neighbors.

Borough Solicitor Attorney Dan Mulhern recommended council should not vote on Ordinance 2014-05 at the November meeting, and wait until the matter may be reviewed further.

Council member Vince Cruciani asked whether the ordinance may be passed with certain conditions that may satisfy the residents, such as planting trees to block the parking lot and regulating lighting.

“I don’t think you can put a condition on the ordinance. Either it’s appropriately zoned or it’s not,” said Kehoe, adding there are conditions on the Planning Commission which Hibble would also need to present his plans to before the issue would be brought back to council.

Council voted 6-1 to hold off on the vote regarding the ordinance until the borough solicitors review it thoroughly, with council member Pat Williams opposed.

After a discussion at the work session and a meeting of the borough’s finance committee with Jim Burk from Wayne Bank, council debated the allocation of $20,000 in excess funds towards the borough’s debt that was voted on at the October meeting.

Vice President Dominic Scott motioned for council to allocate the $20,000 to the borough’s capital reserve instead of the debt.

“We have a chance to build the capital reserve up,” said Scott.

“We have a chance to pay off the debt,” Cruciani responded. “We had excess funds. Why not put it towards the debt?”

The motion did not pass, with council voting 4-3. Council members Cruciani, Herman Johnson, and David Jenkins voted no, and President Gerrie Carey, Jim Klein, Scott, and Williams voted yes. The $20,000 will be allocated towards the capital reserves.

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