Changing business park setback not so easy

By Jan. 26, 2013 4:35 pm Peter Becker Managing Editor The News Eagle, Hawley PA
Pike County Economic Development Authority (EDA) would need to seek an amendment to restrictive covenants placed on vacant business park land on Well Road (SR 434), if the applicant wishes relief from the 150 setback from the road.

G. Davis Inc., which operates a fleet of 25 school buses charted by the Wallenpaupack Area School District, is interested in a piece of property in the park to serve as a depot. Rich Davis, General Manager, said they have been located in Shohola Township since they started 45 years ago, but their business has grown. He said the Pike County Business Park in Blooming Grove Township would better serve their needs. They take about 150 children a day to school and back. The bus company made an offer to the EDA, but before pursuing the purchase, Davis said that the present 150 foot setback would need to be changed. The setback line passes through a pre-existing building that the bus company would want to renovate, and the useable acreage that is left beyond the setback would not give them enough room. He said that they would utilize about four to five acres between two wetland areas, should the setback be relieved. A fence and buffer of trees would be proposed to block the view of the buses, in lieu of the deep setback. Davis suggested that a 30 to 50 foot setback would be more reasonable.

Michael Sullivan, Executive Director of the EDA, met with the Blooming Grove Supervisors on Dec. 17 asking if the setback requirement could be waived. Sullivan noted that the business park has not had any tenants, and allowing the bus company would provide a tax-paying entity. The EDA serves to seek and market potential business sites. The business park on Well Road is owned by the Pike County Business Development Corporation, Sullivan said. The 150 foot setback was put in place to protect the residential properties in Camelot Forest across the road. Randy Schmalzle, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said that no formal request was ever made to the Township. He said the Supervisors had no position until a submission is made by the applicant. Sullivan was informed that a process would have to be undertaken to request that the setback be changed. This would require a public hearing, giving the residents a chance to give testimony. Then it would be up to the Supervisors to vote on whether or not to allow the change. The chairman said it was a long, negotiated process to establish the restrictive covenants for the business park, and in the end, all parties agreed to the setback of 150 feet. Sullivan stated, however, that the EDA lacked the financial resources for the engineer and legal counsel, to apply and request an amendment to the restrictive covenants.