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Shell picks Potter
The economic effect of Shell Oil building a petrochemical plant on the former Horsehead site in Potter, and/or another company building a similar plant on the Aliquippa riverfront cannot be overstated.
"An informed citizen is the only true repository of the American will."
-- Thomas Jefferson
Zoning board rules VFW's gun
range can continue to operate
Commander Cliford Waller (left) speaks at a February Hopewell Township Zoning Hearing Board hearing as VFW attorney Lawrence Bolind looks on.
A contention by Hopewell Township that a gun range at the local VFW post is not a permitted use under its zoning regulations has been overturned by its zoning hearing board.
"The decision is that the rifle range is considered existing non-conforming (use) and can continue to be used, providing that all users are members of Post 8805, either regular or social members," said township zoning officer John Bates.
The post had argued that the range is legal because it falls under the zoning code's allowance for recreation.
Neighbors of the Stone Quarry Road post have complained about noise from the range, with those complaints becoming more frequent as range activity has increased in recent years.
The state has ordered a cleanup of the lead-containing earthen backstop.
A February hearing addressed Robert W. Young VFW Post 8805’s appeal of a December 2019 cease and desist order from township zoning officer John Bates that shut down the range.
Bates testified at the hearing that the post has been in two different zones over the course of the years, and a gun range is permitted in neither.
While he also said that there is no specific mention of gun ranges in the zoning ordinance, the landowner would have to seek a special exception for anything not specified.
However, Lawrence Bolind, the post’s attorney, said that the range should be permitted as a recreational use in the VFW’s current zone. He submitted a 2008 letter from Bates to the post congratulating it on safely operating a range for more than 30 years.
“The township acknowledged its existence,” he said after the hearing. “They knew it was there, and they had no objection” until more than a decade later.
“The members of the post are very sympathetic regarding their neighbors,” Bolind said. “They want to be good neighbors. They want to get along.”
Documents entered into the record showed the post lost tens of thousands of dollars during 2017 and 2018. “We’ve been losing money every year,” said Commander Clifford Waller.
Bolind said the VFW paid $3,000 for a noise study, and has “a gigantic cleanup coming up” at the range.
Regarding how that will be paid for, “They’re still trying to raise it,” he said.
Hopewell declares disaster emergency
Voting via conference call Monday, the Hopewell Township Commissioners unanimously agreed to approve a declaration of disaster emergency.
That gives Manager Jamie Yurcina and Solicitor Mike Jones the authority to:
•Hire temporary workers •Rent equipment, regardless of cost •Purchase needed supplies
Jones said the hiring authority was granted should employees call off work because of the novel coronavirus now sweeping the nation.
The commissioners will continue to conduct phone meetings on their regular schedule.
A decision by the zoning hearing board regarding the fate of the gun range at the Hopewell VFW post has been extended for 60 days.