This article was funded by LebTown donors as part of our Civic Impact Reporting Project.

Residents filled the seats at Monday’s North Lebanon Township Board of Supervisors meeting to speak their mind on a considered zoning amendment for parts of 1675 and 1677 Grace Ave.

The equitable owners of the property, Escambia LLC, are requesting a zoning amendment from rural residential (RR) to residential density one (R1). Should the amendment be proposed and passed, Escambia plans to construct homes on 27 lots on the property.

Perry Subdivision concept plan for the property at 1675 and 1677 Grace Ave., with planned development outlined in red.

The proposed development also includes a roadway from Grace Avenue to Hunters Chase Lane.

Escambia’s lawyer Derrick Dissinger noted that single-family residences, as are being proposed for the property, are permitted in both RR and R1.

However, development will likely not be under current consideration if the zoning remains RR. Engineer for the project Justin Kuhn noted that with RR zoning, the project would be unable to turn a profit.

RR and R1 have minimum lot sizes of 20,000 square feet and 15,000 square feet, respectively, and minimum lot widths of 125 feet and 110 feet, respectively. Kuhn said these differences combine to limit the project to a max of 22 lots, despite only seven lots falling under 20,000 square feet, because of the shape of the property.

Once zoning is changed on a property current and future land owners are not committed to a specific use. Below is a simplified comparison of uses allowed by right for RR and R1, not including special exceptions that require township approval.

RR permitted uses

  • Single-family residences
  • Soil cultivation and crop production
  • Public conservation areas
  • Public parks, forest reserves, some other public uses
  • Private or public schools or nurseries
  • Churches, cemeteries, etc
  • Necessary public utility structures
  • Municipal buildings, museums, libraries, etc.

R1 permitted uses

  • Single family residences
  • Agricultural use not including animal husbandry or pet kennels
  • Public schools or nurseries
  • Public parks and playgrounds
  • Churches, cemeteries, etc.
  • Municipal buildings, museums, libraries, etc.

Several members of the public voiced concerns about the plan. Hunters Chase Lane resident Karen Mihalik presented supervisors with a petition opposing rezoning with a total of 60 signatures. Most signers, Mihalik said, also live on Hunters Chase Lane.

Dissinger voiced concerns that Mihalik may have spread misinformation about the project while going door to door for signatures, and claimed that he had been contacted about false claims that the project includes 50-plus lots. Mihalik, as well as several attendees at the meeting, denied this.

She also supplied the board with the flier she had handed out door to door, which says “stop the zoning change, save our rural lands and wildlife.” Both the flier and the petition were added as exhibits.

Several residents brought forth other concerns including possible increased traffic on Hunters Chase Lane, decrease of space available for children to play outside, and less natural scenery leading to the reduction of market prices for their homes.

Dissinger noted that many adjacent properties had formerly been zoned agricultural before being changed to R1, and that regardless of zoning change the property can still be developed into housing. He also assured that new housing in the development would be high quality.

Kuhn said that he anticipated most traffic from the development to exit onto Grace Avenue and suggested it would also provide an alternate exit for Hunters Chase Lane residents and provide easier access to emergency services.

In response to concerns about stormwater runoff, Dissinger said that the project would still need an approved stormwater management plan and that could be discussed at a later date.

However, several residents complained that they felt stormwater plans for older properties were inadequate and urged the township to be more thorough in the future.

Several residents also said that they had been told when they purchased their properties that this plot would never be developed.

Bryan Perry, who owns the land in question, said it is his land to develop and he cares deeply for the area and does not feel that the project will harm the community. His children echoed this sentiment.

A few other members of the public supported the development plan, citing increased community and access to emergency services, Perry’s right to develop his land, and more.

As of now, no amendment has been proposed. Amy Leonard noted that the hearing serves to give supervisors an idea of public opinion and should an amendment become adoption, public input will also be accepted at that time.

Following the hearing, board vice chairman Heisey said he had made detailed notes and that supervisors would take the public’s opinions into account as they consider next steps.

Supervisors consider the proposal.

In other news, the board:

  • Approved Ordinance 1-2023, establishing a procedure for installing curbs and sidewalks and setting it as residents’ responsibility to clear snow/ice and manage vegetation on/along sidewalks on their property. Treasurer Ardy Snook was opposed because the ordinance also states that curb repair on an individual’s property is their responsibility, which Snook disagreed with.
  • Approved the 2023-2025 NLT police contract, with board chairman Ed Brensinger opposed due to an unfrozen pay scale.
  • Agreed, with Snook opposing, to send a letter to residents with deficient curbing along roads planned for pavement instructing them to replace their curbing, and reach out to the township if this creates financial hardship.
  • Unanimously agreed to send Leonard, engineer Steve Sherk, and township manager Cheri Grumbine to a Zoning Hearing Board hearing for requested variances for development at 1610 N. 7th St.
  • Unanimously approved to submit its 2023 application for county liquid fuels for $12,041.
  • Unanimously approved a contract with Border Patrol for goose management at Lion’s Lake Park for $6,930.
  • Unanimously approved the licenses for six local mobile home parks, and authorized the solicitor to take additional steps on Lakehouse, which has not sent in its renewal application.
  • Unanimously agreed to appoint Joshua Haines from Mount Gretna as a Lebanon County Tax Collection Committee delegate for 2023, with Bonnie Grumbine as alternate.
  • Unanimously agreed to advertise for an open full-time sewer billing clerk position.
  • Unanimously approved Jan. 3 meeting minutes, as well as payroll.

North Lebanon supervisors meet at the township municipal building the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. The meetings are open to the public and do not require prior registration.

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Emily Bixler

Emily Bixler was born and raised in Lebanon and now reports on local government. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and going for hikes.

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