How the Zoning Change Turns: When a ‘Yes’ Vote Becomes a ‘No’ Vote Becomes a Possible Revote

| September 10, 2019

FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – The absence of two Franklin Council members has thrown a curveball to a proposed zoning change in the City that would benefit Venango County in its efforts to buy the old Lutheran Church that is now occupied by the Salvation Army at the intersection of Elk Street and 8th Avenue.

At its August meeting, the Council approved, on a first-reading basis, a change from Residential Zoning to TRC by a vote of 5-2 with Fred Mays, Sam Lyons, Doug Baker, Mike Dulaney, and James Johnson voting in favor and Donna Fletcher and Ryan Rudegeair voting “no.”

At the second reading of the ordinance Monday following a public hearing on the proposal, Mays, Baker, and Johnson voted for the change with Fletcher and Rudegeair voting “no.” Lyons and Dulaney were absent from the meeting.

While the measure “passed,” it actually failed because a majority of all council members need to approve it – meaning four “yes” votes were needed.

According to Brian Spaid, City Solicitor, under Robert’s Rules of Order, a revote could be brought up at the October meeting as long as one of the “no” votes agreed to sponsor the motion

Fletcher said she was agreeable to that to give all council members a chance to vote.

HEARING DETAILS

According to Pat Owoc, the Housing Unit Manager for Venango County, the building would be used in a couple of different ways including for County storage, employee training, and meeting space and another part of it for transitional housing – three apartments – for small families to get those families into permanent housing.

In the transitional housing portion, Owoc said he couldn’t give an exact time frame for families in the apartments but generally it is in the 80- to 90-day range.

Joe Jasiota, who lives at 740 Liberty Street next to the building, expressed some concerns.

“My concern with the proposal is that with transitional units, you will have a group of people without any vested interest in the area,” Jasiota said. “It infringes upon my privacy and the value of my property.”

According to Jasiota, currently, the use of the facility is tolerable because the Salvation Army free lunches are only for a limited number of afternoon hours three days a week.

He did say that when the Salvation Army had a daycare center at the property it was more problematic with the parking lot used as a playground, and toys and kids ending up on his property.

Because of that, he said he would like to see a few things agreed upon by the county, including a 10-foot privacy fence like there is by Sheetz and not having high-in-the-air lighting that would affect his property.

According to Charles Gibbons, Franklin’s Code Enforcement Officer, the County would be required to fence the property with privacy fencing but the height could only be as high as six feet because of city code. He also said a lighting ordinance doesn’t allow light to flow onto someone else’s property.

Jasiota said he believes the County should wait to see how the Polk Center situation plays out saying if the Center does close, it would be a great location for an all-inclusive County Human Services facility.


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