The Tunkhannock Township Planning Commission attempted to move the issue of zoning forward last Thursday night, but many of the roughly 50 persons present said they would like to just see the discussion stopped.
Tunkhannock Supervisor Veto Barziloski, who chairs the group, opened the meeting by saying the priority for the night was to take a look at a proposed zoning map that was being revised to make some areas near residential settlements rural-agriculture which allowed for less restrictive uses than had been suggested when the idea of zoning surfaced last year.
“We want to get as much information from you as we possibly can,” Barziloski said.
He urged those present to visit the website tunkhannocktownship.org and check out the document being drafted, a map and a fact sheet about what zoning could meant for the township.
He said as soon as a more finalized document was drafted that would also be available at the Tunkhannock Library.
As the issue came up at the planning commission’s January meeting about if the voters could decide whether they wanted zoning through a referendum, Barziloski said he went to the county elections office and was told, “We can’t have a referendum on zoning.”
A person in the audience said, “Who did you ask?”
And Barziloski responded, “Flo Ball.”
There was no more discussion about referendums.
Barziloski walked over to a township map and with a pencil began to circle places like Anderson Road, Dark Hollow Road and Jayne Road behind the high school, and said they would likely be pulled as being designated as purely residential.
Areas, he said, that would stay residential included Rivercrest/Highfields, Shadowbrook, Saddle Lake and Lake Carey.
Resident Stacy Peterson asked Barziloski, who was sitting in the front of the room with fellow supervisor Glenn Shupp along with TTPC members Frank Wadas and Jerry Beauchene as well as consultant Carson Helfrich, “What are your priorities?”
Barziloski said, “We’re interested in the community’s health, safety and well being.”
Peterson said, “There’s a rumor that you are not running again for supervisor, is that true?”
Barziloski acknowledged it was not a rumor, but it was true that he was not seeking reelection to the supervisor’s position when his term that expires at the end of the year is over.
“If you’re trying to push this through now but won’t follow through, what good are your efforts here?” she asked.
Resident Gene Woodruff said, “I would say we’re done and just walk out the door. Let’s do this.”
Barziloski said he understood how some people would be upset about it, but promised there would be public hearings before anything was voted on.
Woodruff said, “We’ve made it clear before we don’t want this. All it is going to do is pit neighbors against neighbors and friends against friends, and also add more and more taxes.”
Barziloski disagreed but noted the night’s meeting “is a platform to put all of the ideas out on the floor.”
Resident Bill Chapla said that when he first came to the meetings about zoning last year, “I was on the fence and wanted to learn. But every meeting I’ve come to it’s become too obstructionist.”
He said there were good reasons for zoning that just get lost in the heated environment.
“What are they?” someone asked about good reasons for zoning.
Chapla cited five or six things including giving a community more control over its future and helping home values.
He noted that 90 percent of people living in the U.S. are under zoning, and he took issue with a comment made at a previous meeting that Hosuton, Texas, had no zoning.
“Houston does have zoning, it’s just called something else,” Chapla said. “I think it behooves everyone in this room and community to look at the facts so we can have a rational decision.”
Resident Dave Kintner also spoke up.
“First off there has to be a compelling reason to do it,” he said, “and we need to look at its advantages. But also, what are the costs?”
He added, “It boils me a little when some government official tells me, ‘We want to protect you.’ I also believe in limited government.”
Kintner noted that he works in real estate and has seen in places like Tunkhannock Borough, Washington Township and Eaton Township where he said he had lost sales after people began to examine some hidden costs.
Resident Joe Mitchell said he was concerned about “What keeps it from exploding? And how many of these definitions are redundant to what the county is already doing?
Consultant Helfrich said there was no redundancy because the county doe not have zoning.
“It has a subdivision and land ordinance,” he said.
Barziloski said, “I know a lot of you are concerned about the length of this document” as he held up a spiral bound publication an inch or more thick.
Mitchell asked, “Where is the public outcry for zoning coming from?”
Barziloski said, “You guys weren’t here for that silica sand plant thing?”
The meeting ended after a little more than an hour, and Barziloski noted the next meeting would take place on April 6 at 6 p.m. at the Tunkhannock Township building.