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A Damascus spring

By Linda Drollinger
April 23, 2014

DAMASCUS, PA — The Damascus Township Board of Supervisors spent the greater part of its April 21 meeting defending itself against charges from two residents that ranged from nepotism and collusion to dereliction of duty. Presented during the public comment period before agenda items were tackled, the charges centered around the planning commission’s long-awaited decision on minimum property lot size. The two residents were vocal in their support for a minimum lot size of not less than two acres per parcel.

Reading aloud a section from the Supervisors Handbook that defines the duties and responsibilities of the planning commission as implementing the will of community residents, Bob Gross claimed that the commission does not represent the community as a whole, because its members are appointed, not elected, and some of them are related to supervisors. He also pointed to survey results indicating that a majority of respondents preferred larger, not smaller, lot sizes. He further noted that a public hearing is required before an authoritative decision can be made.

Chairman Jeffrey Dexter reminded Gross that a public hearing was held some months ago, that Gross had been present at it, and that he had taken the floor at that time to express his opinion. Dexter also reminded Gross that the subsequent board vote had gone against increasing lot size. Zoning and Code Enforcement Officer Ed Lagarenne explained that determining minimum lot size is a complex process that takes into consideration many factors, including ground percolation requirements. Supervisor Joe Canfield remarked that township planning commissions are urged to take direction from state and county planning groups, both of which favor smaller minimum lot requirements. Planning Commission Vice Chairman Marty Kuntsman assured the board that the commission will make its decision public at the next monthly supervisors’ meeting on May 19.