Animal housing solution in Clay Township

By on August 21, 2019

An odorous problem involving too many animals kept at a Hopeland home seems to have been solved.

At last month’s Clay Township meeting, neighbors complained to the board of supervisors about the smell emanating from numerous animals kept at a home in violation of the township’s ordinance. Under the township’s zoning laws, homes (other than farms) may have no more than four animals. The residents in question had numerous, including chickens, pigs, rabbits and a goat.

At one point there was also a peacock. The property is only about an eighth of an acre. At that time the township had given the family until July 8 to either submit a zoning application to keep additional animals or else to clean up the property. The family did neither.

As of the Aug. 12 township meeting, the family had been given a new deadline of Aug. 15. According to township zoning officer, Tom Zorbaugh, the family had suggested another alternative.

“They claim they’re moving by the 26th,” Zorbaugh told the supervisors.

But were they? The house is not listed as being for sale, Zorbaugh said.

Shortly after the meeting, the township was told by the family that they now have only four animals and are in compliance.

Also at the meeting, the supervisors granted conditional approval to Hometowne Square Phase 4B. Part of the larger Hometowne Square development along Hackman Road, Phase 4B will consist of 10 single family homes on a 2.6 acre tract bordering the north side of the development’s main access drive. The township was assured that the Phase 4B would not dump any additional water run-off toward an adjacent preserved farm.

Tied into Phase 4B is the seventh and final storm water basin which would be an oblong detention basin flanking Hackman Road. The basin, the supervisors were told, will be 4.8 feet deep from the bottom to the spillway and 6 feet from bottom to the brim. Supervisor Keith Martin asked if the basin’s bottom was designed to hold water indefinitely like some of the earlier basins in the project, saying some “have become jungles.” Kim Graybill of Pioneer Management which is overseeing the project said Basin 7 was originally designed to hold water nut that was recently changed.

The supervisors were given a PowerPoint presentation concerning sewer lines in the Hopeland area that must be corrected. In April 2018, the township received a letter from the Department of

Environmental Protection stating that, according to the municipality’s annual reports, Clay had exceeded the capacity of a small treatment plant so that it was “hydraulically and organically overloaded,” said Township Manager Bruce Leisey.

“With all the rain we’ve had, I think a lot of plants have gone over their capacity,” Leisey said.

The incident was “an anomaly” and only lasted for one day, the township replied. DEP agreed but still wanted a Corrective Action Plan about how the township planned to correct it. Plus the state wants one-year’s worth of test data. The township went looking for problems and found them around Hopeland. A robotic camera was sent into the pipes where it photographed images of sagging pipes, cracks in manholes, cracks in pipes that have allowed plant and tree roots to infiltrate, and faulty taps where the homeowners’ sewer lines connect to the township’s.
Pipes affected are underneath Maurice Drive, Hopeland Road, Maple Street, Matthew Drive and Hannah Drive. Many of the repairs will be the township’s responsibility but a few will fall back on homeowners.

In other business, the township gave two bicycle races permission to use their roads.

The Lancaster Bicycle Club’s requested use of township roads as part of their 41st annual Covered Bridge Ride on Aug 18. About 2,000 bicyclists will take part. The rides are of different lengths of 16, 32, 62 and 100 miles and cross seven covered bridges; Bitzer’s Mill, Weaver’s Mill, Bucher’s Mill, Keller’s Mill, Erb’s Mill, Amish (Pinetown) and Hunsecker’s Mill. The race started and ended at the Lancaster campus of Harrisburg Area Community Colleges. Proceeds from the race benefit the maintenance and repair of covered bridges as well as providing scholarships to HACC students.

The township also approved a ride to benefit kidney disease research and treatment through Bridge of Life. The Tour DaVita, a national event that is held in different states, is sponsored by DaVita kidney centers and will feature 500 riders, all DaVita employees, who will ride through Lebanon and Lancaster counties on Sept. 21. In Clay Township, the bikers will use Klinefeltersville, Clay, Hopeland, and Mount Airy roads.

The township supervisors gave a nod of approval to a request by the Charity Gardens Homeowners Association to construct a basketball court in Charity Gardens Park along Agape Drive. The

HOA has offered $10,000 toward the project. Leisey said paving would run about $6,000 and backboards, hoops and poles for each end of the court would cost $1,250 per side, or $2,500.
Lastly the board discussed the situation at Carpenter Road bridge. The distressed bridge, which crosses Hammer Creek, is located where Clay, Ephrata and Warwick townships come together. The bridge is 50 percent owned by Warwick Township while the remaining two municipalities each own 25 percent. While the bridge abutments remain in good condition the bridge has two main beams that are “badly delaminated,” Leisey said. Following an inspection by Warwick Township, the weight limit was reduced from 15 tons to three tons. However, with a three ton limit, vehicles like snow plows and ambulances would not be able to use it.

Leisey said that “three or four years ago” the Warwick Township offered to abandon both the road and the bridge and hand it over to the property owner whose farm is bisected by the short length of Carpenter Road. He turned them down. Discussion at the Aug. 12 meeting involved repairing the bridge to standards or replacing it.

“We’re going to meet with the other townships and try to figure it out,” Leisey said.

He said he would look into grant for maintenance on “low-volume bridges like this.”

Larry Alexander is a freelance columnist based in Ephrata. He is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He can be contacted at

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