Salisbury Press

Wednesday, December 11, 2019


Wednesday, December 4, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN in Local News

Language detailed in zoning ordinance

"God, or the Devil, is in the details," the late wordsmith William Safire once wrote in his "On Language" newspaper column.

"Details" was the byword during the Nov. 12 Planning Commission meeting when Salisbury Township Director of Planning and Zoning Cynthia Sopka led a nearly line-by-line review of the proposed Salisbury Township Zoning Ordinance update.

Planners were expected to again discuss the zoning ordinance at a special Dec. 3 workshop.

Usually, the township Zoning Hearing Board meets on the first Tuesday of the month and the township Planning Commission meets on the second Tuesday of the month.

Because there was no zoning hearing this month, planners decided to meet one week earlier than usual.

The date for a public hearing to obtain comments about the proposed zoning ordinance has not been announced.

A planners' hearing for a new zoning ordinance is required by law.

A public hearing held by the Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners is also stipulated if and when planners recommend the zoning ordinance for approval.

"It's going to take a while," Sopka said of the review of the zoning ordinance. "It may not all take place at the workshop," she added.

Linguists would have loved last month's planners' meeting.

Sopka said she wanted to make sure the zoning ordinance complies with the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Code.

As an example of the detail gone into by Sopka, the planners and Atty. John W. Ashley, planning commission solicitor, the use of the word "temporarily" was questioned.

"How long is 'temporarily'?" it was asked.

"I don't think you need the word 'temporarily'," Ashley opined.

"This is a very bad sentence," Sopka observed.

"That confuses me when I read that," Planner Glenn Miller said.

"Welcome to my world," Sopka replied.

"Do you want to rewrite this?" Sopka asked Miller.

"Yes," Miller answered. "I'll have at it."

Other sentences, phrases and words parsed during the zoning ordinance discussion included "substantial" and "impact," the latter in the term, "traffic impact studies."

Concerning the word "substantial" and "substantially," Sopka said, "You will find that word throughout this document. Those ambiguous words really stand me up."

Sopka said "substantially" or "primarily" usually indicates 50 percent or more of something. Sopka said she looked it up.

The use of the word "substantially" could be consequential should planners review a land development plan where a flood plain, wetlands or seeps are indicated as being present.

"Take 'substantial' out of there. It's an unnecessary description," said Stephen J. McKitish, Jr., planners vice chair.

And so it went, for two and one-half hours, as the officials poured over the new zoning ordinance.