Salisbury Press

Thursday, July 16, 2020

ZONING HEARING BOARD

Wednesday, March 11, 2020 by Paul Willistein pwillistein@tnonline.com in Local News

Girl Scouts’ Mountain House appeal granted

The Girl Scouts’ Adventure Place at Mountain House building project has been approved unanimously, but with conditions, by the Salisbury Township Zoning Hearing Board.

By a vote of 5-0, zoners approved construction of Mountain House Clubhouse in the Summit Lawn area atop South Mountain.

The Girls Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, Inc. appeal was granted to build an approximate 7,000-square-foot building that will be heated and include bathrooms, including showers, sinks and flush toilets; activity rooms for the Girl Scouts; office space for Girl Scouts staff and a “Trading Post” for the purchase of Girl Scouts-related items.

The vote happened 11:39 p.m. March 9 during a third and final hearing of three and one-half hours of testimony, questions and answers and deliberations attended by an estimated 100 in the cafeteria of Salisbury Middle School.

The Girl Scouts’ appeal was for a special exception to construct the building as an expansion of a Special Exception Use, and a favorable interpretation to permit an existing cabin to remain as a nonconforming structure. The property is in the CR (Conservation-Residential) Zoning District.

The Girl Scouts have been using the 15.37-acre site as a private recreation area since at least 1952. The cabin has been there since 1943. The site is along West Rock Road, west of the Summit Lawn exit of Interstate 78.

The zoners’ decision will be put into writing and issued by Salisbury Township Zoning Hearing Board Solicitor Atty. Victor F. Cavacini.

After the hearing, Cavacini told a reporter for The Press he would need to summarize the conditions before issuing the order based on the zoners’ decision.

Atty. Stephanie A. Koenig, associate, Fitzpatrick Lentz & Bubba law firm, Allentown, representing the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, Inc. said she wanted to refrain from commenting to a reporter for The Press after the hearing until she could read the zoners’ ruling in full, expected to be issued March 13 or 14.

Atty. Mark Scoblionko, representing Jane and Michael Benning, objectors to the appeal who live in the vicinity of the Girl Scouts’ camp, told a reporter for The Press after the hearing that an appeal of the zoners’ decision depended on a consultation with his clients.

The next step for the Girl Scouts’ project is for it to be presented to the Salisbury Township Planning Commission for review of its Subdivision and Land Development Plan.

Salisbury Township Consulting Engineer David J. Tettemer told a reporter for The Press after the hearing the Girl Scouts’ project would probably not be reviewed by township planners at a public meeting for at least two months. The planners meet 7:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month in the municipal building.

The township zoning board’s approval includes at least 10 conditions, as announced at the hearing and subject to refinement in phrasing by Cavacini.

The conditions, as read at the conclusion of the hearing by Salisbury Township Zoning Hearing Board Chairman Atty. Kent Herman, include:

- The Mountain House’s two tracts of its camp property will be consolidated into one tract.

- Use of the new Mountain House building is restricted to Girl Scouts’ recreation use and those ancillary uses relating to administration and maintenance of the facility and not for general office use.

- The Trading Post use will be operated in conjunction with Girl Scouts’ Mountain House camp activities and will not be advertised.

- Trading Post hours of operation will align with Mountain House hours of operation.

- As part of SALDO, all requirements of tree removal, steep slopes and other conditions must be met.

- No outside rental of the Mountain House facility is permitted.

- Girls Scouts’ administrative staff at Mountain House is limited to a total of 10 persons.

- Girls Scouts attending summer camp at Mountain House is limited to a total of 55 girls per week.

- The Girl Scouts will provide a trained safety monitor during the time frame of pickup and drop-off of Girl Scouts at Mountain House.

- Information about the speed limit and other traffic laws on West Rock Road will be provided parents-guardians-drivers in camp packets, by email and verbally.

- A lighting plan for the parking lot must be submitted.

Zoning board Vice Chairman Todd Laudenschlager moved, seconded by Ronald Evans, to bring the appeal to a vote. They, along with Joseph Kovach, Ian Baxter and Herman voted to approve the appeal.

In a separate 5-0 vote, zoners voted to allow the cabin on the Mountain House site to continue to be in use.

The March 9 hearing following hearings Feb. 18 and Feb. 4 for a total of nearly nine hours of testimony documented by a court stenographer.

Hearings were moved from the township municipal building meeting room to the Salisbury Middle School cafeteria to accommodate the number of residents, Girl Scouts officials and interested parties who attended. Approximately 100 attended each hearing.

More details about the March 9 Salisbury Township Zoning Hearing Board’s decision concerning the Girl Scouts’ Mountain House project will be published in the March 18 edition of Salisbury Press.