Salisbury Press

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

SALISBURY TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION

Friday, December 28, 2018 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Local News

Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall tent use receives approval

That tent you saw at Kingdom Hall along East Emmaus Avenue in Salisbury Township isn’t for a tent revival religious service.

On recommendation of the Salisbury Township Planning Commission, the Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners voted unanimously 5-0 to approve the conditional use of the tent.

Commissioners Vice President Debra Brinton made the motion for the vote, seconded by Commissioner Joanne Ackerman.

The tent facilitates construction work at Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall, 1005 E. Emmaus Ave., Salisbury Township.

Bret Wirth, representing the Kingdom Hall congregation said renovation work on the building is expected to be complete in mid-January 2019.

Atty. John W. Ashley recommended the conditional use be extended until the end of January 2019.

According to the conditional use application submitted to the township planning commission and approved by a 6-0 vote by planners at their Dec. 11 meeting, “The proposed use of the tent is to care for the safety and feeding of all volunteers on the site during the remodeling of the Jehovah’s Witness facility. The tent is planned to be used throughout the project (approximately 12 weeks).”

Planner James Brown made the motion to vote, seconded by Glenn Miller, planners’ secretary.

During the Dec. 13 conditional use hearing before township commissioners when they voted to approve the use, Wirth said, “Everyone who works there is a volunteer. There’s a 20-minute safety program every morning for any volunteers.”

Wirth said refreshments are provided and food is delivered for volunteers. The tent is heated.

The township fire marshal visited the site of the tent, which is on the Kingdom Hall parking lot.

There is an on-site construction trailer, on-site portable toilets and an on-site dumpster, the latter for discarded construction materials.

Security for the site is provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to Wirth.

Upon completion of the renovation project, the tent will be removed.

During the Dec. 11 planning commission meeting, planners’ Chairman Charles Beck claimed concerning the tent, “There were so many complaints about it. You have to get permits for that.”

Kingdom Hall officials apparently didn’t realize that setting up and use of the tent required conditional-use approval by township planners and commissioners.

“The project looks to be done the second week of January,” Wirth said. “It’s [the tent] been there two months. The safety exceeds requirements.

“All the permits were pulled for the work,” Wirth said.

“It’s more of a cosmetic remodeling,” Wirth said of the work.

The project is on schedule, according to Wirth.

During renovation, worship services are being held at another location.

Accompanying Wirth was Barak Campbell of JW Congregation Support, which coordinates work at Kingdom Hall facilities.

Campbell said after completion of the Salisbury Township project, he would be heading to Arizona and, after that, New Mexico for Kingdom Hall projects.

Campbell said he participated in nine months of disaster relief work in Puerto Rico following the September 2017 devastation there caused by Hurricane Maria.