Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Synagro Sketch Plan for crap bakery in Plainfield Township requires multiple use variances and one dimensional variance

On Wednesday November 29, the Plainfield Township Planning Commission will meet to review Synagro's latest application to locate a biosolids (crap) bakery in the township.  It is a permitted use, but Waste Management, Synagro, and Green Knights are attempting to wedge this pig into a postage stamp-sized area, and as a result multiple variances are needed.  If they can not demonstrate hardship (which they can't), they can't obtain a permit.  The current application is only a sketch plan - it can neither be approved or disapproved - it's intent is to present a proposed concept and get feedback, ideally.  Synagro already has the feedback it needs from Plainfield Township and the neighboring municipalities - take this shit elsewhere.

Let's review the kinds of variances, and which are easier to be granted under the PA Municipalities Planning Code (MPC), if relief is justified.  There are dimensional variances, in which a dimension such as height, building setback, etc can not be met, and use variances, such as locating a crap bakery in a zoning district it is not permitted, in which a non-dimensional requirement can not be met.  This is what Synagro first tried to do, even though (former) Planning Commission and Green Knight member Robert Cornman Jr. was involved in a similar attempt to locate a business permitted only in the Solid Waste District in another zoning district in 1999.  Click here to see the Zoning Hearing Board opinion rejecting that variance request.  As long time Planning Commission Chairman, responsible for knowing and updating zoning, did he really not know where Synagro's use is permitted?   Did he care?  While the same uniform criteria were intended to be applied to each kind of variance, the PA courts have ruled/interpreted that the most stringent tests for hardship apply to only use variances.  This is ok - Synagro needs multiple use variances.

The following criteria are specified in the MPC, and all must be satisfied to grant a variance:
  1. That there are unique physical circumstances or conditions, including irregularity, narrowness, or shallowness of lot size or shape, or exceptional topographical or other physical conditions peculiar to the particular property and that the unnecessary hardship is due to such conditions and not the circumstances or conditions generally created by the provisions of the zoning ordinance in the neighborhood or district in which the property is located.
  2. That because of such physical circumstances or conditions, there is no possibility that the property can be developed in strict conformity with the provisions of the zoning ordinance and that the authorization of a variance is therefore necessary to enable the reasonable use of the property.
  3. That such unnecessary hardship has not been created by the appellant.
  4. That the variance, if authorized, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood or district in which the property is located, nor substantially or permanently impair the appropriate use or development of adjacent property, nor be detrimental to the public welfare.
  5. That the variance, if authorized, will represent the minimum variance that will afford relief and will represent the least modification possible of the regulation in issue.
You may have attended a Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) hearing, and walked out saying "that sucked - they knew how they wanted to vote before they walked in.  That was a kangaroo court.  What a joke."  This can and does happen, and many times it goes without challenge due to cost (assuming a record was made to justify appeal by an aggrieved party) or an insufficient record to overturn the decision.  A Zoning Hearing Board is a quasi-judicial body, with a stenographer and testimony under oath.  The Board has the latitude to hear testimony and evidence, and decide which it finds credible and which it does not.  Having good standing as a nearby or adjoining property owner increases the pressure on the Board to act as it always should - ethically, and impartially.  On the other hand, unless an objector with good standing (aggrieved party) appears in opposition, the ZHB can pretty much do as it pleases, but the municipality always has the right to intervene and appeal a decision - even if it did not appear and object.  In the case of Synagro, Plainfield Township obviously objects to their plans, and will appear with counsel at the ZHB to cross examine witnesses and present testimony during a variance hearing. When lawyers show at a Zoning Hearing Board Hearing, it increases the pressure even more to follow procedures carefully.  The ZHB's decisions may be appealed to the county court, the Commonwealth Court, and in some cases the State Supreme Court (the Supreme Court agrees to hear a tiny fraction of civil cases on appeal), by either side.  It is vital to get everything substantive on record at the ZHB, since on appeal usually cases are decided solely on the record made at the ZHB.  The issue on appeal is usually did the ZHB make an error of law or abuse its discretion when it ruled based on the evidence and testimony.

Looking at the Synagro Sketch Plan and the Township Zoning Office's review letter, we can see that several variances are needed (letter is at bottom of this post):
  1. 318(I) x 2 Front lot line is not separating the Green Knight (p 22) or Synagro lot (p 6) from a street right of way, so the front yard setback is not being met. (U)
  2. 402(A) x 2 Neither the proposed Green Knight (p 7) or Synagro lot (p 7) fronts on a street. (U)
  3. 505 Areas within 50' of the banks of any streams, lake or pond shall be in open space. (p 10) (D)
  4. 315.B.35.a Entrances and exits are not separated as required, and are not located along an arterial or collector road. (p 12) (U)
Basically, the Township is arguing that its recreational trail property (in red) was not intended to be considered a "street" when the agreement to allow temporary use of its property was made, that the access drive constructed on it by Grand Central is not a "street", and therefore the proposed lots can not front on it.  Furthermore, the proposed Synagro use is required to be accessed using separate entrances and exits to either an arterial or collector road, and Grand Central's haul road is neither.  Despite Synagro in its sketch plan narrative stating the the entrances and exits are separated, the truck traffic flow diagrams depict both access drives as used in a bidirectional manner - in conflict with the Ordinance.  These are all serious deficiencies.

Another matter that is highlighted in the Township review is that alternate storm water basins/discharge areas must be identified for each proposed lot prior to subdivision or land development approval.  Also that an amended development plan of Green Knight's from 2001 that Synagro relies on in its narrative never met the conditions for final approval, was not recorded, and is thus null and void. This is kind of important - currently Green Knight is operating in violation of its approved and recorded Development Plan, because it depicts the driveway to Green Knight as going through the proposed Synagro plant and connecting to the road through the front yard.  But that was never built, and the Green Knight driveway goes through its side yard (should be the front yard) on the northwest corner of the building.  Uh oh - Lucy got splain'n to do Lucy.  See a portion of the recorded Green Knight plan, below, depicting the driveway location that was approved but not used.

Portion of Synagro Sketch Plan, Plainfield Twp property shown in red

Traffic pattern of necessity.  Bottom diagram is counter clockwise.  Each access is used as both an exit and entrance in violation of the ordinance.

Recorded Green Knight plan, depicting proper driveway through front yard 50' setback
But it was constructed through the side yard 25' setback - bait and switch

The Zoning Office's review letter is shown below for reference.  Note that five use variances and one dimensional are needed thus far.  One of the hardships to obtain a use variance is demonstrating that the property can not otherwise be used profitably.  In this case, the landfill owns the property, and it is extremely profitable.  All the criteria must be met, so failing to meet just one causes the variance to be denied.

Synagro will obtain approval or be denied, in this observer's opinion, based on legal issues involving use of the Plainfield Township Recreational Trail property, and the variances it will need to comply with zoning.  Look at another criterion above (#4) - "will not impair use of adjacent property" presents a problem in light of loss of use of the Township Trail for decades.  "Public welfare" includes health, safety and welfare items such as odors, air pollution, truck traffic etc.  Recently the township solicitor remarked he may be in court with this for 1 to 3 years.  Perhaps Synagro will just leave....

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Engineering and Zoning review letters for Synagro October 3, 2017 Sketch Plan submission for biosolids crap bakery in Plainfield Township

On October 3, 2017, Synagro withdrew its site plan submissions for a biolsolids processing plant at a principal site and an alternate site in Plainfield Township, Northampton County.  A new plan was submitted - a sketch plan on the same alternate site that was previously pursued - on top of a quarry.

The principal difference in the new sketch plan (a sketch plan does not have to meet the same requirements as a site plan - it can be literally a sketch - in this case however, the drawings submitted are equivalent to those that would accompany a site plan) is that Synagro is now planning to haul its waste water off site.  While Synagro has stated this is in response to public concerns, it is likely that Synagro realized it may not obtain approval to dump 80,000 gallons of waste water containing ammonia and other goodies into low volume, high quality streams.  It isn't clear why Synagro is switching to a sketch plan, when ultimately they would have to return to the Planning Commission with a site plan submission to obtain a permit.  Perhaps they believe they can obtain the required regulatory approvals with a sketch plan.

The sketch plan diagrams and narrative were previously posted here (click).  Reviews of this submission were completed by:
  • Plainfield Township Zoning Office
  • BCM (environmental engineering consultant for Plainfield Township)
  • Hanover Engineering (township engineer for Plainfield Township).
The three reviews are posted below.  At a glance, the Zoning Office has dug deeper into the proposed site and has added critical commentary on the original development plan of Green Knights that Synagro is relying on.  Check back here for additional observations as time permits.  Please arrive at your own conclusions in the mean time.  Here is one tidbit - when is a street not a street?  When it isn't connected to the street system according to the Zoning Office.
Proposed "cul-de-sac" to allegedly place Energy Center on a street can not be a street
because it crosses someone else's property (in red).  More like a hanging chad.

Synagro and Plainfield Township are lined up for an extended legal battle in this observer's opinion.  The township is not wavering in its belief that multiple variances are required, and Synagro (and Waste Management) is forging ahead with a fa-la-la "variances?  we don't need no stinking variances!" attitude because this shit is too good to pass up.  Construction will not be beginning anytime soon, if ever.

Township Zoning Office Review

Township Consulting Environmental Engieer Review

Township Engineer Review

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Northampton County Executive Candidate John Brown Refuses to Take Position on Sludge, Using Taxes Other Than As Intended

On Tuesday, Northampton County voters will vote on 5 of 9 council seats, and also elect the next county executive.  Incumbent John Brown is running against Lamont McClure.  McClure served on council for 10 years, until stepping aside two years ago.

Brown's Record on Open Space and Related Taxes

In 2006, voters put John Stoffa into office.  Stoffa promised to raise taxes in order to fund open space preservation.  Earlier, in 2003, voters had voted overwhelmingly to fund a $37m bond issue for the same purpose, but the bond was never pursued.  Stoffa followed through on his promise, and instituted a 0.5 mil property tax, which land owners have paid ever since - it generates $3.9m dollars per year.  This tax was instituted in a manner in which it is not mandatory to spend it on open space, though that is its purpose and as stated voters voted to support it.

Prior to Mr. Brown taking office, of the $29.6m collected, $23.5m was put towards the Open Space program for municipal and county parks, preservation of environmentally sensitive lands and farmland preservation.  The county farmland preservation program is one of the most successful in Pennsylvania.  During Mr. Brown's four years, he has only put $3.7m of $15.2m collected towards open space, and $3m of this was required by a now expired amendment to put towards municipal parks.  The other $11.5m Mr. Brown has evidently used to plug holes in the non-open space budget.  This is a contravention of the voters wishes.

McClure has stated that he will return to funding Open Space at levels similar to that prior to Brown taking office.

Brown's Vision of Economic Development - Warehouses and Bridges to Support Tractor Trailers
No answers for Slate Belt

Brown's campaign advertises his commitment to economic development and transportation, and in fact he has developed a program to replace outdated bridges.  However, he appears to have no respect for our natural resources - both the defunding of Open Space as well as not funding the new innovative Livable Landscapes program demonstrate this.  Brown apparently believes preserving open space takes up space that could be used for million square foot warehouses.  The Livable Landscapes program was instituted just a year ago, to supply a funding stream for projects such as walking trails, recreation and stream restoration.  Funding for this program in 2018?  $0.  At the debate with McClure last week, Brown suggested he had funded it, but those funds were applied last year.  Also at the debate, McClure correctly pointed out that Brown had raided the IDA (Industrial Development Authority) fund after taking office.  The IDA was put in place to identify, promote and fund light industrial development opportunities in the Slate Belt.  Although Brown is most recently from Bangor, he has not lived up to his promise to bring jobs to the Slate Belt.

Brown's $200m Prison, Paid for with no New Taxes?

As has been widely reported, Brown plans to build a new prison for the princely sum of $200m.  He claims that he will not raise taxes to do so.  Even if he continues to raid the taxes collected for Open Space, he will be millions and millions of dollars short.

McClure has stated unequivocally that he would not build a new prison.

Brown's Position on Sludge - No Comment

Mr. Brown has been asked repeatedly to express his stance on sludge, since the Synagro plant has applied to locate in Plainfield Township, and a multi-year battle has taken place over sludge application to farms in Upper Mt. Bethel Township.  One would think that someone that the Slate Belt put into office would have no trouble taking a stance against sludge.  His silence can only signal one thing - he is reluctant to admit to the residents of Northampton County that he supports Waste Management, the proposed Synagro plant and applying sludge to farmland.

In stark contrast, McClure has made a clear statement that he will fight against the use of sludge in Northampton County.

The Slate Belt May Make the Difference on November 7

It is likely that Slate Belt voters are responsible for Brown attaining office, and on Tuesday they may again be the deciding factor in who prevails.  If you value clean air and water, recreation and open spaces, low taxes through preservation of land that may otherwise be developed with homes that will raise school taxes, would like to see real economic development, and not deal with sludge, the choice appears to be clear.

Below is a handout that is being circulated, and included for your reference

Monday, October 16, 2017

Syangro files new application for biosolids plant in Plainfield Township - similar to previous proposal

Synagro has withdrawn the two site plans that were tabled at the Plainfield Township Planning Commission.  Both of these site plans would have required multiple zoning variances.  The last communication from Synagro to the township was that it was going to apply to the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and PA DEP for a approval to dump approximately 300 tons of waste water per day into a tributary of the Walz or Little Bushkill Creek.  Both creeks are high quality cold water fisheries, and it is questionable whether either of the low-flow tributaries involved would be approved to have 56 gallons per minute of waste water disposed in it.  There are limits on the percentage of stream flow that a new source can add to the existing flow.

Site plans from October 2017 sketch plan submission

In this regard, Synagro has submitted a sketch plan application that removes the potential waste water issue; the new proposal is to collect waste water from baking the shit, and to haul it back to the source.  This is an interesting proposal, because Synagro has stated the source of the shit will be the "Tri-State" area.  They are actually going to ship waste water all the way back to Connecticut, New Jersey and New York?  This must be an extremely lucrative business.  It's obvious that Synagro and Waste Management want this very badly - all of the surrounding communities as well as Plainfield Township opposes sighting a biosolids plant on the target property.  Trucking waste water away won't change much in the community.

The sketch plan that Synagro submitted contains site plans that are virtually identical to those submitted in May.  The location of the plant, layout and traffic pattern is identical.  Note - a sketch plan requires no approval of the Planning Commission, versus a site plan submission, which does.  Although the current application contains site plans within it, it is not being submitted for site plan approval.  A sketch plan allows an applicant to have an informal discussion and discuss issues.  In examining Synagro's submission, it appears to this observer that the intent is the site plans included represent a finished product, and could possibly be taken to the DEP following a discussion at the Planning Commission - providing the basis for an application to the DEP and/or DRBC.
Asinine traffic pattern persists in new proposal
(this diagram is from the May application)

The new proposal's site plans contain two primary differences from the previous.  The first is a cul de sac is shown, as an entrance road to the existing Green Knight Energy Center.  This is unrelated to the Synagro site, and may be designed to bring the Green Knight lot into compliance with its development plan.  The second is that the "WWTP" (waste water treatment plant) has been relabeled "Waste Water Management Area".  It is unclear whether waste water from cleaning equipment and trucks will be trucked off site, or disposed of in the Walz or Little Bushkill Creek, or as a third option the local Municipal Authority waste system.

 Narrative that is contained in the October sketch plan application

The hauling of the crap bakery waste water from the site does not affect any of the Zoning Variances previously identified by the township.  Synagro has addressed its position on several if not all of these variances in the narrative included in the submission.  In light of the removal of the need to have approval of the creek disposal of bulk portion of its waste water approved, the chief obstacle for Synagro will be the Zoning Variances.  A potential legal battle is shaping up over these variances.  It is expected that a meeting will be held in mid to late November, for the planning commission to review and discuss the Synagro sketch plan.

Friday, August 4, 2017

August 4 update on Synagro's proposed biosilids plant in Plainfield Township (Slate Belt Heat Recovery Center)

It's been quite a whirlwind bromance for Synagro, which first appeared before the Plainfied Township Planning Commission in November 2016, with no notice to township residents.  Synagro was hoping to obtain approval in one night to site a 400 ton per day crap bakery in the township, on land owned by Waste Management (Grand Central Sanitary Landfill).  They would take waste heat from Green Knight's energy operation, and use it to dry sludge.  At least that is the guise under which they would operate - they would also have fuel sources of natural gas and methane available for when the waste heat is insufficient (for example, for decades after the landfill and energy center shut down).  Synagro's attorney Matthew Goodrich told the planning commission that Synagro's use fully complied with the zoning ordinance.  Despite shepherding by Green Knight and soon to be former planning commission member Robert Cornman, Jr.to be granted preliminary approval, no vote was taken that night.  Mr. Cornman's plan to assist Synagro to slither into town unnoticed and skip off with a golden ticket died when it was discovered Synagro had no degree of certainty where it would dispose of 80,000+ gallons of waste water a day.  Once this project was revealed to the community, it quickly earned a very rare triple Golden Turd Award on this very site.

Flash forward to August 2017, and the November plan sits in the scrap heap of very poorly planned projects, because Synagro's use is not even permitted on the proposed site.  A second site was selected, where it is a permitted use, but there is insufficient space to construct a facility to conform to zoning.  Synagro's attorney Goodrich doesn't believe any variances are needed (he stated this on June 12, despite receiving a letter earlier that day indicating Synagro requires eight (8) zoning variances.  The communities of Pen Aryl, Wind Gap, Upper Mt Bethel Twp, Lower Mt Bethel Township have all officially objected to the proposed plant.  Washington Township has sent notice that their zoning officer will attend all meetings associated with the project to represent the township's interest.  In addition, Synagro's proposed alternate site requires that a portion of the Plainfield Township Recreational Trail be used as an access road and road frontage.  As of June 12, Synagro still couldn't say where it will dispose of its waste water, or exactly what its operating hours would be.  Simply put, Synagro has had its head up its ass for the duration of this entire haphazardly conceived proposal, and nobody is in favor of this plant except Synagro, Waste Management, and Green Knights.

Syngaro now has yet another significant obstacle in its path, which became clear on June 12, the day of the second site plan review (first meeting since Nov 2016, first night that the alternate site was reviewed).  Despite overtures to the contrary and legal threats by Synagro counsel Goodrich, Synagro can not be issued a conditional zoning permit for its operation - it must first obtain the required approvals from all regulatory agencies.  In this case, the most obvious ones are PA DEP and DRBC (Delaware River Basin Commission)

On July 11, 2017, Synagro sent a letter to Plainfield Township, indicating (grudgingly) that Synagro would in fact go through the permit application and review process with the regulatory agencies prior to resuming pursuit of a zoning permit.  In the letter, Synagro counsel Goodrich laments the expense this may cost his client. As of August 4, neither DEP or DRBC has been approached by Synagro to discuss its proposed biosolids processiing facility.  A DEP representative interviewed today said that the initial step with DEP would not require a plan, but rather be informal and allow the Applicant to identify all permits needed.  Due to DEP staffing and review requirements, it would take 6 months or more for Synagro's proposal to obtain approval.  A DRBC representative said that the DRBC "has not been contacted since fall 2016 about a possible biosolids plant" in Plainfield Township when contacted today by this blogger.  It would take approximately 6-9 months for a proposed plant to be approved by the DRBC.

Perhaps Synagro counsel Goodrich should look in the mirror before grousing about costs to Synagro. The site plan reviewed in November 2016 must have cost over $10,000 to prepare - it was Goodrich's responsibility to review the zoning ordinance and if he did he should have readily seen Synagro's use was permitted elsewhere, not on the proposed site.  It's a solid waste use, and Plainfield has a solid waste district.  Um, where the fuck should the use be permitted, and where do you think it is in fact permitted? Do they have English courses in law school?  Goodrich's legal fees by this time have likely topped $10,000 as well.  Job... done.

As mentioned in a recent post, Synagro has also not pursued the variances it needs in order to obtain a zoning permit.  As of today, the township has not received a variance application.  What the heck is Synagro doing?  Are they biding time before acknowledging this dream has in fact died, or is everyone on holiday for the summer?  Why wouldn't they go and get the ball rolling with DEP if all it takes is an informal meeting?  Cold feet?  Feet stuck in the mud (or shit)?  Whatever they do, it appears that it will be at least six months before another public circle jerk takes place like the review meeting on June 12.

Synagro's plan is in troubled waters

Looming at the end of the line (apparently - only time will tell) for Synagro is eight zoning variances they simply can not prove the hardships required to be granted.  Mr. Goodrich may want to advise his client on this matter, if he is truly concerned about costs.  This blogger's guess is cost is no object, since Waste Management wants this very badly, and Waste Management is used to getting what it wants.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Synagro changes course and will seek regulatory approval prior to proceeding with zoning permit review of Plainfield Township biosolids facility

Textbook example of placing the cart before the ass

Tonight's planning commission review of Synagro's application for a zoning permit to construct a 400 ton per day crap bakery in Plainfield Township, situated along Plainfield Township's Recreational Trail, was requested by Synagro to be tabled.  The reason for tabling was incompletely described in an Express Times article as "Synagro requires more time to prepare."

Synagro sent a letter to the township on July 11 with a more detailed explanation.  It turns out that Synagro will seek to obtain regulatory permits (eg DEP, DRBC) prior to proceeding with its quest for a zoning permit.  The township had previously cautioned Synagro in correspondence that it could not issue a permit prior to obtaining these permits, but at the June 12 planning commission review counsel Matthew Goodrich attempted to argue that the township has issued permits in the past conditioned on obtaining approval.  However, the examples he referred to were land development plans, not zoning permits.  Furthermore, Goodrich argued in writing on May 30 that Synagro's sought permit "can be approved conditionally" Can is not the same as must - surely Mr. Goodrich knows the difference.

Attendees of the June 12 planning commission meeting heard only a handful of questions asked of Synagro following its lengthy presentation, but they were excellent questions that may have helped Synagro realize the commission does not have the information it needs prior to making a recommendation.  Synagro was unable to state its proposed operating hours, exactly where its waste water will be directed (one of two high quality cold water fisheries), or how much waste water is generated each day.  These are questions that will be answered after the regulatory review process is complete.

Here is the Plainfield Township Zoning Ordinance article that covers the issue:
Zoning Ordinance clearly states that no permit
shall be issued prior to obtaining regulatory approval

Here is the July 11 letter in which Mr. Goodrich has an epiphany of sorts, and states that Synagro will take a detour and obtain regulatory approval prior to proceeding with review of its application before the planning commission:

Synagro counsel Gooodrich grudgingly announces change of course in pursuit of permit

Clearly Mr. Goodrich's attempts to bully the township have failed.  He is belly aching about the expense this will cause Synagro - what about the expense of the township defending itself against this universally despised proposal?  Perhaps instead of demanding a permit, and now requesting the DEP or Delaware River Basin Commission issue permits, Synagro should apply for the eight zoning variances it requires - that would save everyone time and money and end this process, because Synagro does not have the hardships required to be granted variances.  On June 12, six hours after Mr. Goodrich received a Zoning Officer review letter indicating these variances are needed, he incredibly stated to the planning commission that Synagro believes it needs no variances.  Did he read that letter?  This is one case after another of putting the cart before the ass.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Synagro once again delays review of controversial biosolids plant (Slate Belt Heat Recovery Center) in Plainfield Township - will not appear July 24

On June 12, 2017, Plainfield Township's Zoning Officer sent a lengthy letter to Synagro, finding multiple deficiencies in its application for a Zoning Permit to locate a crap bakery in the township.  Also in that letter were determinations of the Zoning Officer that Synagro's proposed plant requires eight specific variances.

Boat slip access will be possible at Synagro's State of the Fart facility

Later on June 12, at the planning commission meeting to review Synagro's site plan, Synagro counsel Matthew Goodrich addressed the commission and took the position that Synagro's application requires no variances, and thus Synagro must be granted a permit since its use is permitted.  The latter part no one can deny - Synagro's use is permitted on the site proposed.  However, the former is clearly in dispute - Synagro is attempting to build a $20m+ state of the art crap processing plant in a pond.  That's going to be a problem, and its current proposed project does not come close to complying with the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance.

For all of Synagro's bluster that it has a right to a permit, they are apparently in no rush to prove they deserve one.  They have not appealed the Zoning Officer's June 12 determination, and have not responded to address other deficiencies in their site plan enumerated in the June 12 correspondence.  Here is a sample:

  • Synagro has not proven that the naturally occurring slopes on the site where development is proposed were less than 15%.
  • Synagro has not presented proof of equitable ownership (eg a lease agreement)
  • Synagro has not stated its operating hours on the site plan, as required
  • Synagro's site plan does not show the adjacent land parcels as required (including the critical parcel that Plainfield Township owns, which Synagro plans to use as an access drive/street.
During discussion at the June 12 meeting, Synagro could not even opine on the amount of waste water it will generate, which will be discharged into either the Little Bushkill or Waltz Creek.  This is non-trivial - on a suggestion from a planning commission member, it was agreed that it will be in excess of 80,000 gallons per day.  Synagro appears to have a great plan in mind, but no attention to the details needed for it to be approved.  Most importantly, they appear to believe for some unknown reason that they require no variances.  If this is true, why haven't they appealed the Zoning Officer's June 12 decision to the Zoning Hearing Board?

A new development is that Synagro has tabled its plan for July, and will not appear before the Planning Commission for continuation of the review, as scheduled on July 24.  There is no further information available at this time regarding the delay.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Grand Central Landfill (Waste Management) in Plainfield Township reportedly withdraws permit modification request to solidify and dispose of liquid waste

As reported first on this blog, Waste Management/Grand Central Sanitary Landfill submitted a permit modification request to the PA DEP in the spring of 2016, to solidify and dispose of liquid waste. This is a lucrative business area, and glutton Waste Management clearly wanted an even bigger slice of the waste disposal pie than it already has.  It is also attempting to lease a portion of its property to Synagro, to locate a crap bakery on the parcel of land currently used for the landfill.   The surrounding communities are uniformly opposed to this project, as well as Plainfield Township.  16 jobs and $50,000 a year in tax receipts for one community has been deemed to be a horrendous trade off for reduced property values and a near certain guarantee of odors, not to mention 80,000 gallons of waste water a day discharged into high quality streams.  The proposal requires eight zoning variances that have been identified thus far, and despite Synagro not being able to demonstrate the necessary hardships to be granted zoning relief, this project is still scheduled for review.  Greed has no bounds for Waste Management, which should have retracted its offer to Synagro months ago.  There is no apparent lease- Synagro has failed to submit evidence of equitable ownership to the the township, which is required for such an application.

At tonight's Plainfield Township Board of Supervisors meeting, a scheduled agenda item was:
  • Notification of PA DEP Minor Permit Modification Application Withdrawal - Solidification Plan Modification - Grand Central Sanitary Landfill/Waste Management (underline added)
A DEP representative informed this blogger two months ago that the DEP was concerned about this permit modification request, and was not inclined to grant it, but no detailed discussions had taken place at that point..  Apparently either the application was pursued by Waste Management in the last few months, and it was determined they could not be successful in obtaining the modification, or the scrutiny that came with the request becoming public was not desired.  Either way, this chip has reportedly been removed from the table.

Now all that remains is for Synagro to realize it can't possibly be successful, literally pack its shit up and go the hell away.  It was a bull shit plan from the start, and once it didn't get rammed through in a single night in November 2016 (by none other than Green Knight member and Planning Commission member Robert Cornman Jr) this became obvious.  Quite simply, there was an attempt made to cornhole the residents of Plainfield Township, Wind Gap and Pen Argyl - and it failed.  Those involved should be ashamed, including Synagro legal counsel Matthew Goodrich, who misrepresented at the November 2016 planning commission meeting that the application met the zoning ordinance.  That proposal is currently not even being discussed because it was/is in direct conflict with the uses allotted in the ordinance.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Synagro requires eight variances for Plainfield Township site, but fails to apply for them ahead of July 24 review

Synagro is non responsive to the need for zoning relief

As reported on this blog, Plainfield Township notified Synagro on June 12, 2017 that its current site plan under review to place a crap bakery in the township requires eight variances.  As of today July 10, Synagro has submitted no applications for any variances, nor any response to the township's June 12 letter.

Per Section 802.(A) (2) (b) of the Zoning Ordinance, an application for variance involving any use shall be reviewed by the Planning Commission.  The Planning Commission meets on July 24 to continue review of Synagro's application.  There is a 21-day period prior to a Planning Commission meeting in which to file new materials.  There are now 14 days remaining.

Synagro has made a big deal out of the fact they have a permitted use on the current site.  See an intimidating letter their legal representative submitted to Plainfirld Township here.  However, they seem curiously mum on several details.  At the June 12 review, they had trouble even stating what their operating hours will be - which is required to be on their site plan, but is not.

These eight variances are another detail - a major one.  Synagro does not have the hardships necessary to be granted zoning relief.  Could this be why they are dragging their heals in acknowledging they are needed?  In any event, the Planning Commission can not recommend approval of the Site Plan until such time these variances are attended to.  Not having proper access lanes, not having a proper front yard, not having a street to be located on - these are significant deficiencies.  Here are quotes from the June 12 letter informing Synagro of the deficiencies:
  • Page 5
    “Pursuant to the requirements set forth in Section 315 (B) (35), the proposed entrance and exit to the facility are not separated and clearly designated and they are not located along either an arterial or collector road. The entrance and exit to the facility is located along an interior access road of the Grand Central Sanitary Landfill. Therefore, the conditions and provisions associated with this additional requirement are not being met. A Variance is required from Section 315 (B) (35) (b) of the Plainfield Township Zoning Ordinance.”
  • Page 13
    “All areas within fifty feet (50’) of the banks of any streams, lake or pond shall be in open space. It is the determination of the Zoning Officer that a Variance is required for Section 505 of the Plainfield Township Zoning Ordinance.”
  • Page 13
    “The Front Lot Line (Street Line) does not meet the definition as set forth in the Plainfield Township Zoning Ordinance as follows: “A lot line separating the lot from a street right-of-way. The front lot line shall be the same as an existing or future right-of-way line (whichever establishes a greater width).” The lot line is not shown as separating the lot from a street right-of-way, as required by Section 201 B of the Plainfield Township Zoning Ordinance. Therefore a Variance is required from the Front Yard setback as set forth in Section 318 (I) of the Plainfield Township Zoning Ordinance.”
  • Page 19
    “The proposed loading and offloading road encroaches upon the proposed
    Green Knight lot (5.18 acres). The setback requirements for the rear yard
    for both proposed lots and the front/side setbacks of the Green Knight lot
    are therefore not being met as currently proposed on the Site Plan, as
    determined by the Zoning Officer. The Applicant is representing that a cross access agreement between the two (2) tenants will be submitted. A cross access agreement is not specifically defined with the Plainfield Township Zoning Ordinance as a way to gain relief from the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance;
    therefore, a Variance is required from Section 704 (B) (3) of the Plainfield Township Zoning Ordinance.”
  • Page 24
    “The definition of a Street as set forth in the Plainfield Township Zoning
    Ordinance specifically precludes an access drive from being designated as a
    Street. The access drive does not contain a right-of-way area. Indeed, a
    portion of the access drive is owned in part by Plainfield Township (Tax Map
    Parcel ID# E8 14 IA 0626E). The proposed principal building is not proposed
    to be built upon a public or private street that meets the definition of a Street
    as set forth in the Zoning Ordinance. The access drive does not meet the
    requirements of a Street as defined by the Zoning Ordinance, and is not
    designated as any of the following: Arterial Street, Collector Street or Local
    Street. Both the proposed Synagro lot and the proposed new Green Knights
    lot do not front upon a street as defined by the Plainfield Township Zoning
    Ordinance. Therefore, a Variance is required from Section 402 (A) of the
    Plainfield Township Zoning Ordinance.”
  • Page 24
    “An access drive does not meet the requirements of the Plainfield Township Zoning Ordinance for the definition of a Street. It is unclear to the Zoning Officer
    how a private street right-of-way could be created to the west of the Green
    Knight lot, as a portion of that access drive is owned by Plainfield Township
    (Tax Map Parcel ID# E8 14 IA 0626E). Further, it is unclear to the Zoning
    Officer how the Applicant would extend the proposed facility’s lot to the
    right-of-way of Pen Argyl Road. Said extension to Pen Argyl Road is not
    shown on the proposed Site Plan. Therefore, the Front Lot Line (Street Line)
    does not meet the requirements of the Plainfield Township Zoning
    Ordinance. A Variance would be required in order to configure the lot in its
    current proposed configuration, pursuant to Section 201 (B) of the Plainfield
    Township Zoning Ordinance for the definition of a Front Lot Line.”
  • Page 29
    “The Applicant is representing that they are entitled to relief from Section 703 G (1) (2) of the Zoning Ordinance in order to allow open cross access between
    the proposed facility and the Green Knight LFGTE Plant. “Open cross access” is not defined within the Plainfield Township Zoning Ordinance as warranting relief from the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance, especially considering that the proposed facility does not front upon an Arterial, Collector, or Local street. Neither the Zoning Officer nor the Planning Commission has the authority to grant relief from the Zoning Ordinance- only the Zoning Hearing Board has such
    authority. Therefore, a Variance is required from Section 703 G (1) (2) of the Zoning Ordinance.”
Quite simply, Synagro is in a corner.  The ball is in their court and it's time to poop or get off the pot....

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Upper and Lower Mount Bethel Townships join Wind Gap and Pen Argyl in opposition to proposed Synagro biosolids facility

On Monday night, the Upper Mount Bethel Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to send a letter to Plainfield Township, advising that they oppose the proposed Synagro biosolids plant and reserve the right to appear at meetings and hearings to be a party.  On June 2, the Lower Mount Bethel Board of Supervisors sent a similar letter (below).

These letters join letters from Wind Gap and Pen Argyl, which all express similar concerns: stream and water quality, air quality, truck traffic, quality of life, property values, etc.  Plainfield Township supervisors also oppose this project, but legally they can't express an opinion one way or the other.  The most outspoken critic in the area has been John Reinhardt, who has written excellent letters to the newspaper explaining why turning the entire Slate Belt into a trash dump under the guise of Economic Development and "good jobs" (Synagro projects an underwhelming 16 jobs at this site) will destroy the quality of the lives of those living there.

Nobody in the Slate Belt wants this pile of shit business located there, except Waste Management, Green Knight Economic Development Corporation, and Synagro.  Following the April Q&A, Green Knight President Carlton Snyder stated that one of the criteria GKEDC looked at was "contractual obligations between the parties" when Green Kight chose to support this project.  What does this mean?  Green Knight is a 501(c)(3) - but are they truly independent as required for non-profit status?

It appears that Waste Management wants this project desperately, to fit into their plains for the trash dump.  Recently this blog broke the news that Waste Management submitted a permit modification request to DEP in 2016, for disposal of liquid waste - a very lucrative segment of the waste disposal market.  Only months later, this Synagro project is announced on property adjacent to the land fill owned by Waste Management.  How does this project fit into Waste Management's grand plan is the question...                      

Plainfield Township Zoning Office denies Synagro biosolids plant permit for 2nd time and determines at least 8 zoning variances required

Note: this post primarily concerns the Zoning Office letter which was published the afternoon of June 12, not the Site Plan review by the Planning Commission that evening.

On June 12, 2017, the Plainfield Township Zoning Office issued a letter to Synagro, determining that at least eight (8) specific variances are required for its planned crap bakery as a permitted use in the Solid Waste Zoning District.  Several other Zoning Ordinance requirements are questioned, and compliance is reserved to be determined at a later date.  Just because it's permitted doesn't mean it can happen.  This is a major setback for Synagro - variances are heard by the Zoning Hearing Board, whose decisions are appealed to the Court of Common Pleas, then the Commonwealth Court, etc.  There are specific criteria that must be met to justify variances - often glossed over by Zoning Hearing Boards, but are the ultimate determining factor in whether a variance is justified.  If your township's zoning hearing board is a Kangaroo Court, as was displayed in West Penn Township last evening (water extraction matter), its decisions can easily be overturned on appeal.

For good measure, a Zoning Permit for Synagro was denied for the second time - in the first Zoning Office's review letter in April the permit was also denied.  This is SOP, due to the requirement to approve or deny a permit within a set time frame, and a Site Plan approval required that takes longer than that time frame.  In the case of a Site Plan review, up until a permit is issued following a review and recommendation to the Zoning Officer, variances may be required; the determinations made June 12 do not exclude the possibility of additional variances being required later in the process.

Some top level questions in the township's letter that are identified are:

  •  "Can Syangro use Plainfield Township property (Recreational Trail) under the terms of an agreement that granted Grand Central (Waste Management) the right to use said property until the land fill closes?"  The land fill is expected to close roughly between 2030 and 2035.
  • Can the subdivision that created the Green Knight Energy Center parcel be "undone"?
At the June 12 Planning Commission review of Synagro's Site Plan, Solicitor Backenstoe addressed concerns about the Recreational Trail use agreement with Grand Central, and indicated he would review it more closely in order to give guidance on it prior to the continuation of the Planning Commission review.

It is expected that prior to the next Planning Commission meeting, Synagro will submit variance applications for the variances identified, since the Planning Commission reviews variances prior to the Zoning Hearing Board voting to approve/disapprove them.  Basically, Synagro is up Shits Creek - screwed.  They can't possibly meet the criteria specified in the Municipalities Planning Code.to be granted variances on the proposed site.  Here are the variances determined to be required.  Each line item is a reference to an Article in the Ordinance:
  • (Use) 315(B)(35)(b) Entrance/Exit drives shall be separated and accessed from an arterial or collector road
  • (Dim) 505 areas within 50' of a pond shall be open space
  • (Dim) 318(I) Front yard setback of 50'
  • (Dim) 704(B)(3) Maneuvering room shall be outside required buffer and yard areas
  • (Use) 402(A) Street frontage
  • (Use) 201(B) Front yard definition
  • (Dim) 703(G)(1) Parking space and access drives shall be at least 10' from side/rear lot lines
  • (Dim) 703(G)(2) Areas that are not parking spaces, access drives, walkways shall be landscaped
"Use" is a use variance, "Dim" is a dimensional variance - as determined by this blogger.  Use variances are rarely granted.  The pond setback variance was identified as "use" because Synagro proposes not only building too close to it, but in the pond.  Amphi-truck, anyone?

Here is the biggest problem with Synagro's Site Plan - they have far less space (less than 50%) than they need, so they made up their own definition of front yard to fit their building in, and in the process triggered two of the variances above.  In the process, they chose an arbitrary point (red circle in diagram) to transition from the front yard to a make believe side yard.  The SALDO specifically provides for lots along curved roads, in which the entire frontage is the front yard, there are two side yards that meet at the rear, and there is no rear yard.  Synagro came up with a fantasy yard layout, in order to deal with only a 25' setback along the recreational trail - which in their imaginary world they call a side yard, adjacent to township property not even identified on the site plan that Synagro plans to use for the life of its proposed plant.  The green line in the diagram depicts yards that actually comply with the SALDO and Ordinance.  What Synagro did is bull shit - let's start the side yard at this random point Joe chose to make everything fit.  Hey, great idea!

Synagro's fantasy yard layout (black), compared with the yards as defined in the SALDO and Zoning Ordinance (green)

Employees will need one of these to park in the pond.  A larger version is needed for sludge transport near through the parking area

Here is the Zoning Office's June 12 letter:

Monday, June 12, 2017

Two important Poop and Water Extraction blog municipal meetings tonight, in the midst of intimidation

Tonight, in West Penn Township, there is a Zoning Hearing Board hearing to hear an appeal by citizens rightfully upset that a water extraction operation was welcomed quietly into town - in a process that bypasses the one dictated by the Municipalities Planning Code as well as the township zoning ordinance.  In court testimony last week, in which water pimp Jay Land failed in his attempt to have a bond required, there was testimony that concerned citizens had been intimidated by the landowners and Mr. Land in response to them pursuing their right to challenge Land's permit and its regulatory enforcement.  It rumored there have been one or more additional incidents, which may be discussed at tonight's hearing.

In Plainfield Township, poop processor Synagro pursues review of its Site Plan in support of its application to locate a crap bakery in the township.  What was designed to be a back door (yuck yuck) approach in which the community was blindsided and would not know what happened until the project was approved has evolved into a major battle.  Three townships have explicitly objected to the proposed project, and it is rumored a fourth is or has sent its objection as well.  Plainfield Township can not legally object to the project, but has hired consultants to "make sure the ordinance is upheld." (aka it objects)  Now comes evidence that agents of Synagro are engaged in what appears to this blogger to be intimidation.  I have never seen such a letter accompanying materials for planning commission review, in which members are reminded of their "legal obligation" before an application is even reviewed.  This application was submitted March 31, 2017 and has not yet had a first review due to multiple delays requested by Synagro.

 The result of the Zoning Office's review is (just received this afternoon - see below) is that Synagro must appear before the Zoning Hearing Board in a quasi-judicial proceeding to meet it's legal obligation in an attempt to prove hardship for variances.  Judge for yourself the letter from Synagro's legal counsel:

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Synagro May 30 revised site plan for proposed Plainfield Township biosolids site retains several zoning ordinance violations

Synagro submitted a revised site plan on May 30 for its proposed biosolids crap bakery to be located in Plainfield Township on lands of Waste Management, near the boundaries of Wind Gap and Pen Argyl.  The boroughs of Wind Gap and Pen Argyl have submitted letters of objection to the proposed plan, as well as Lower Mount Bethel Township.  It is rumored that Upper Mount Bethel Township is considering objecting as well.

To Synagro's credit, the revision eliminates the preposterous proposal to essentially overlap Synagro's operation with that of the existing Green Knight Energy Center, and eliminates several variances that would have been needed to implement that non-plan.

However, several variances that appear to be required in the original version of this site plan remain (click here for a detailed description of the deficiency in the review of the original site plan):

  • Sec 503.J.1.c & 503.J.1.d Steep Slopes
  • 318.I & SALDO 10.7.D  Yard definitions - lots with no rear yard and two side yards
  • 704.B.6 Off street loading traffic pattern
  • 315.B.35.a Additional Requirements lot size
  • 315.B.35.b Additional Requirements separate entrances and exits
  • Sec 505 50' setback from a pond for driveways, parking areas, and buildings
In addition, the following variances appear to be needed:
  • 201.B No part of a yard from the surface upward may be occupied unless provided for in ordinance
  • 704.B.3 Maneuvering room must be outside required yards
Significantly, Synagro continues to attempt to squeeze a project the ordinance requires 5 acres for into about 1-2/3 acres of usable area - a fact that results in all of the variances needed listed above (see Site Plan below).

Synagro claims in its response that the Steep Slopes portion of Plainfield Township's ordinance do not apply since the pond is man-made, and thus it not developing on Class A or Class B slopes.

Another key item in the response is that Waste Management believes it has the right to use Plainfield Township's Recreational Trail pretty much forever - not when the land fill closes as intended  A legal opinion should be obtained because the agreement says nothing about Waste Management granting rights to lessors to set up additional operations.  It should be noted that Plainfield Township's Recreation Board has also submitted a letter in opposition to Synagro's plan.

Here is the new traffic pattern that avoids using the neighboring property.  However, note that either a 25' or 50' setback (depending on if the area is the side or rear yard) is violated by both the driveways as well as the proposed berm.
Loading/unloading patterns are in side yard and in opposing directions on one-lane drive (dangerous)

No further review will be done here at this time.  As of Thursday at 3:15pm, Plainfield Township had not received a review of these updated materials from the township engineer.  EDIT: Engineer's review was received by the township and is at the bottom of this post.  Following receipt of the review, it is expected that the Zoning Office will issue a review letter as well, indicating if any variances are required.  To date, none have been officially identified.  Since the Planning Commission reviews variances also, it is expected that during the Commission's review, variances will have to be discussed.  Time is very short - the review begins tomorrow evening.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Jay Land fails in attempt to require a bond or prove frivolity in appeal to ZHB for lack of enforcement and fraudulent issuance of West Penn Fort Franklin Road Ringgold permit

On Wednesday and Thursday, in the Schuykill County Court of Common Pleas, a trial was held in the matter of the appeal by citizens of West Penn Township to the Zoning Hearing Board, in which water extraction aficionado Jay Land attempted to toss a log in the citizens' path by having the court order a bond to protect his interests at his new Fort Franklin Road Ringgold Acquisition Group II site as well as show the appeal is frivolous.  Mr. Land failed on both counts, and the Zoning Hearing Board hearing in West Penn will proceed as scheduled on Monday June 12 at 7pm.

At issue in the appeal is the citizens' belief that the permit was obtained in an improper and possibly fraudulent manner, as well as the permit conditions have not been enforced by the zoning officer.  Evidence was presented by the citizens for both arguments.  Attorney John Kotsatos appeared for the citizens, and Jeff Cianculli and Lauren Schwimmer of Weir Partners for Mr. Land.   The witnesses were Jay Land and Zoning Officer Bill Anders for property owners David and Terri Knoedler and lessee Mr. Land, and Allison McArdle and Beth Pelo for the citizens.

Issues for Judge Russell

Judge Russell was concerned that the citizens do not have standing before the West Penn Zoning Hearing Board, and that it may also not be the correct venue.  She was also concerned about the timeliness of the appeal, since the Municipalities Planning Code states that a decision of the Zoning Officer shall be made within 30 days.  

Very quickly, the judge appeared to determine that a bond was not justified, since Mr. Land testified that his business is fully operational and the citizens are not requesting a stay of the operation during litigation.  Remaining was the question of whether the appeal is frivolous and can be pursued in the manner it is.

Key Testimony

Solicitor John Kotsatos for the citizens presented case law that demonstrates citizens have successfully pursued such an appeal, when it was found there was something fraudulent in the manner in which a permit was granted.  The finding of such fraud eliminates the 30 day time limit on appeals.  Through testimony of both Mr. Anders and Ms. McArdle, Kotsatos argued there is such an element in the instant case.  Mr. Anders testified that when he received the permit application from Mr. Land, he had questions and consulted with Township Solicitor Gretchen Sterns as well as the Township Supervisors to confirm the permit should be granted.  This is an abomination and violates the West Penn Township Zoning Ordinance, as Mr. Kotsatos showed.  Furthermore, Ms. McArdle reported that she attended virtually every BOS meeting in 2015, during which time residents were told Mr. Land had no permit for water extraction at Fort Franklin Road.  Residents were led to believe by supervisors that Mr. Land was extracting water for Agricultural purposes only, and Mr. Land's testimony was he himself stated this at one or more meetings.  The same supervisors who were "consulted" prior to granting the permit.  Ms. McArdle testified that once the permit was finally discovered by citizens, that ultimately they were told Mr. Land would receive a Cease and Desist order (July of 2016) that Mr. Anders was purportedly drafting due to lack of filing a Land Development Plan, but such an order was never issued.  This supports the citizens' second argument that not only was the permit improperly granted, but its conditions were not met.  To date, a Land Development Plan has not been filed, and (not put into testimony) BOS minutes reflect now that supervisors are suggesting one is not needed.  A total circle jerk that circumvents statutory procedures, performed and overseen by these do-nothings in West Penn Twp elected office.  If what Mr. Anders testified to is true, the supervisors were party to the circumvention of the Zoning Ordinance - which they do not have the authority to do.  They approve changes to the Ordinance that have been proposed and discussed publicly, not help interpret it in private - that is the ZHB's purview.

Statutory References

Let's see where Mr. Anders went off the rails.  Here are sections of the West Penn Zoning Ordinance that define the duties and responsibilities of the Zoning Officer and Zoning Hearing Board:
 Zoning Officer's Responsibilities

Zoning Hearing Board's Responsibilities

Mr. Anders made a crucial error in soliciting the advice of supervisors and the township solicitor in regards to whether the permit should be granted.  If he had any doubt at all, it needed to be made as an interpretation of the Zoning Hearing Board.  In fact, the permit should not have been granted because water bottling is a permitted use by Special Exception in other zoning districts in West Penn - the Light Industrial, the General Industrial, and the Extractive Industrial district.  It is not a use permitted at all in the Agricultural District, where the Fort Franklin operation is located.  Mr. Anders took it upon himself to rely on Ms. Sterns opinion that water extraction is an Agricultural use (because a court ruled water is a food and thus ag related).  There are three errors - 1) water extraction is the use, not the packaging of water and 2) the use is specifically permitted elsewhere and thus not permitted in this district and 3) Ms. Sterns should not have been relied on at all.  If Ms. Sterns had looked further, she would have found that actually in PA water extraction has been found to be more similar to a more intense operation such as mining.

Note that bottling is a special exception use - which allows careful review and the placement of conditions on the permit that protect the health saftey and welfare of residents.  This is its purpose.  What Mr. Anders did by conspiring with the supervisors and township solicitor is issue a permit that received no review at all - not even the Land Development Plan that he himself issued a letter saying was necessary, and never enforced (!!!!)  You just could not make this shit up, people. As a result double and triple axle tankers are using and abusing Blue Mountain Drive, tankers far in excess of the weight allowed on both township and state roads without a special permit which have not been obtained - while supervisors sit on their useless asses and say "we can't do anything, complain to someone else".

Judge's ruling and what is next

Although the judge expressed reservations during closing that the citizens had proven they are entitled to pursue their appeal before the Zoning Hearing Board, apparently on subsequent review of case law and the citizens' Memorandum of Law, and the testimony, she determined that they are.  She denied the proposed Order on Mr. Land's behalf to require a bond, and find the appeal frivolous.

Township attempts to have appeal delayed, and Land proposes withdrawal of appeal

Current township solicitor Holly Heintzelman attended the Wednesday hearing, and took meticulous notes.  Following the hearing, she approached Mr. Kotsatos, and indicated the township is planning to appear as a party to the ZHB appeal, and would like to delay the Zoning Hearing.  WTF?  What right does she have to make such a request?  The township wants this matter to go away, that much is obvious.  Ms. Heintzleman may have talked over strategy Wednesday evening with Mr. Land, who was overheard to invite her out to dinner while standing with the Weir attorneys.  Sweet!  Bend over West Penn residents and grab your ankles, this is a no-lube job.

Following Thursday's conclusion of the court case, Mr. Cianciulli approached Mr. Kotsatos and suggested the appeal be withdrawn and Mr. Kotsatos pursue the matter in county court, as the judge has said she thought was appropriate.  Again, WTF?  As the judge's ruling confirms, Mr. Kotsatos is pursuing the matter in the appropriate venue.

The West Penn Zoning Hearing Board will meet at 7pm Monday June 12 to hear the appeal.