Progress shown on development dispute

By on March 20, 2013

By: GARY P. KLINGER Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

The pace of progress seems to be slow but at least there seems to be some movement on resolving an on-going conflict between the homeowners of the Charity Gardens development and its developer.

As reported last month, representatives from the development’s homeowners association have sought any help the township might offer in compelling developer Gene Martin to give the association $50,000 to be held in a fund especially established for the maintenance and repair of the flood basin.

At the crux of the matter is a controversy over what Martin did or did not already contribute to that fund and what obligation, if any, the township has in resolving the conflict. Residents contend Martin never met the obligation. Township officials hold the point of view that their requirement of Martin establishing the fund was above the call of duty but not something they can enforce.

Through a letter from his attorney, Martin has claimed the obligation was already met and that he had already paid to make certain repairs to the system prior to the point at which he and his family turned control of the homeowners association over to property owners.

Ephrata Township supervisors were briefed at the board of supervisors meeting earlier this month by township manager Steve Sawyer with regard to the process of resolving the matter. Sawyer said that he had personally been in touch with Martin.

"I did speak with Mr. Martin on the telephone requesting some more information," said Sawyer. "He has only provided scant information these past several months. I met with him this afternoon where he did provide more information but I requested still more. He did make a promise to get more information to me soon. I will have further conversation with Connell O’Brian of the homeowners association to update him on where we are with this. I think they are satisfied that the township is still looking into it and trying to determine what the outcome should be."

In other township news, supervisors discussed a request by the owners and operators of Weaver Sheet Metal for up to two years time to relocate the business to a more properly suited site, and to return the current property into compliance with local zoning requirements.

The company is a family-run business operated on their farm. Over the years the business has grown beyond what is permitted under current zoning regulations, which allow a farm based operation with up to five employees.

In a letter to the supervisors, owner David Weaver asked for permission to allow the company a time period of two years to relocate a portion of or the entire business to an appropriate location with proper zoning for the business.

"We also want to bring the 214 South Market Street property into compliance to the zoning board’s approval," added Weaver. "We are considering seeking approval from the zoning hearing board to continue to operate the smaller portion of the business, the metal fabricating machinery repair, as a family business with a limit of five employees apart from family members, in compliance to the 1988 agreement. We would also seek permission to use the current farm buildings for storage."

Supervisor John Weber agreed that this should be allowed.

"I think we need to give them some time," said Weber. "They can’t do it overnight. To find the lot they need…then they would need to obtain industrial zoning if in our township. I’m fine giving them the time they are requesting."

Supervisors unanimously approved the request.

The supervisors also discussed the proposed Copperwood Lane subdivision. Sawyer explained that the township is currently working on the parkland dedication requirements for the project. An agreement would grant the Copperwood developer and developer Mike Garman 90 days to pay the fee in lie of constructing pa private park/ recreation area within the development. Such funds, if collected, could be used by the township either to improve the township’s community park or toward development of the rail to trail project.

But the ordinance which requires such a payment is under consideration for certain updates. These updates could affect how this agreement is executed and how much money would be collected. The developer is aware that the ordinance may be updated and affect this project and that he may need to hire an appraiser to help determine the value of recreational land in question. Supervisors approved the fee in lieu of parkland agreement.

For additional information on Ephrata Township, visit ephratatownship.org. Gary P. Klinger welcomes your feedback, questions and suggestions via e-mail at klingerglobal@gmail.com. More TOWNSHIP, page A20

About Ephrata Review