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

Seating was full at the North Lebanon Township Planning Commission’s monthly meeting on Monday. Many in attendance were there to hear the commission’s take on the 420 E. Kercher Ave. Jubilee property.

This followed Jubilee’s meeting for neighbors of the property on May 23. There, the nonprofit unveiled plans for a new headquarters complex that would include a 45,000-square-foot donation processing center, a small office building, and a ministry building to house 45 to 70 students in Jubilee’s aftercare program.

Read More: Jubilee holds neighbors meeting to explain plans for North Lebanon HQ

Commission member Darlene Martin said she was only made aware of Jubilee’s plans last Thursday but that she and the other members will familiarize themselves with it before any plans reach the commission.

Township manager Lori Books (right) addresses the crowd while commission members Darlene Martin and Bill Smeltzer look on.

Township manager Lori Books said that while the previous township manager was in communication with Jubilee regarding the property, no promises were made.

Books said that as the property is zoned agricultural, Jubilee will likely pursue a zoning text amendment to allow the uses proposed. Whether this would pass is ultimately up to the discretion of the Board of Supervisors, which is not up for appeal by the county or any other governmental bodies.

Commission member Dave Leid points to the property on a zoning map.

Books said no plans had been submitted, and a zoning amendment request will likely be placed with the Board of Supervisors prior to any plans reaching the planning commission.

She said that once a text amendment request is received, the Board of Supervisors may either advertise for a public hearing or ignore or reject the request.

Several members of the community attending expressed their displeasure with the project, particularly its housing of former inmates.

When pressed on the commission’s stance on the development, member Kevin George said their personal opinions do not play a role, and their job instead is to enforce the ordinances. As is, he said, the plan would be rejected because it proposes uses not permitted in an agricultural district.

“Legally, we cannot deny something because we do not like it if they meet all the ordinance requirements,” he said.

Read More: What officials can and can’t do when it comes to approving land development

Commission members Dave Leid and Kevin George listen to community concerns.

The Board of Supervisors will meet next Monday at 7 p.m. Several of those in attendance Monday said they will also be present at the board’s meeting.

In other news, the commission:

  • Unanimously approved an extension letter for a warehouse and trailer storage project at 2225 E. Cumberland St.
  • Received comments from the township engineer concerning the Escambia property.
  • Unanimously agreed to receive the preliminary/final land development plan from Stashaway Storage for 1215 W. Cumberland St.
  • Unanimously agreed to receive the sketch plan for the Bruce and Bret Fisher plan at ES Water St.
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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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