The Monday evening meeting of the North East Township supervisors was standing room only as residents of the South Washington Street area voiced their concerns at a public hearing about rezoning the property of Lloyd and Joan Bemiss from R2 to B1. In a previous meeting, supervisors said they knew nothing of any plans for Roberts Trucking to purchase the property if it was rezoned, but in Monday's meeting, supervisor Gus Neff asked the property owner and Mr. Bemiss stated the request was initiated after Roberts Trucking had approached him asking if he would like to sell, confirming what residents had said previously.
Complaints pile up
A long series of property owners cited the current problems with trucks in the area, such as the constant noise at all hours of the day and night, heavy use of Jake brakes, constant back up alarms, dust from the parking lot, semis speeding down local streets as well as a range of new problems created since the trucking facility was built. Many references were made of the water runoff that was causing issues with property owners north of the facility, where, after heavy rains, the ditches next to Route 89 have been unable to handle the amount of water rushing north, often resulting in overflow onto the highway. Property owners who previously had no issues were now dealing with flooded basements and the land in many neighborhoods was becoming saturated because of redirected water runoff seeking a new path as it traveled north on its way toward the lake.
Decision already made?
Supervisors took notes during the hearing and responded to several residents who stated it appeared in previous meetings as though their concerns were being brushed off and a decision had already been made. Supervisors Vern Frye and Gus Neff specifically stated no decision had been made, and after the many speakers had cited their concerns, they decided to table the request until they could study the issue further. Several speakers said impact studies needed to be made before a well considered decision was possible.
It was also suggested, that no matter how this decision goes, North East could benefit by regulating the use of Jake Brakes as well as taking other noise abatement measures throughout the area. Another observation was on the need, now, for a traffic light at the intersection of Rte 89 and Law Road.
No response from Roberts Trucking
One silent party in all of this is Roberts Trucking. No representatives were there to explain their position or to respond to the many complaints offered at the hearing. It was noted that planning commission member, Kirk Hill, is employed by the trucking company and he has recused himself from any participation in discussions or votes on this matter. Roberts Trucking should be aware that how they operate their business can have a dramatic effect on local residents and can likewise have an impact on how those same residents view their company. Businesses cannot and should not ignore local opinion as it can have a considerable effect on their long term success.
Supervisors have a lot to think about and residents will be watching to see whether or not their input has had an impact on the outcome. Stay tuned.