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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  •  Zoning violation alleged at river access Uses of former Threshman property

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     By Tim Sohn
    News Eagle Correspondent
    A proposal by the Lackawaxen Board of Supervisors setting restrictions on the use of the former Threshman property along the Lackawaxen River – now used by Kittatinny Canoes – has been rejected by the property owner, according to Anthony Waldron, township solicitor, at the Dec. 17 meeting of the board. The board voted to issue a violation notice to Jones Partners LP.
    Waldron recommended, and the board agreed, that Jones Partners LP, the property owner, is now in violation of zoning laws and will have the zoning officer issue a violation notice. Kittatinny Canoes rents the property from Jones Partners LP. An appeal can be filed before the zoning hearing board.
    "It [the letter] rejected a number of things including things that he had proposed previously. So, there’s a two steps forward, three steps back, or maybe one step forward, three steps back, scenario. Given the fact that there were gray areas about the compliance with our ordinance, I suggested that if we got some things nailed down, it would be worth making a compromise on both sides. Unfortunately, there was not only an unwillingness, and even an expansion there," said Waldron.
    He added that there was never a certificate of non-conforming use obtained when the property was purchased in 2010, and there was never a certificate obtained, which is required when a property is not in use for one or more years. Waldron also said the township has a letter of intent from the property owner saying he intends to use the property.
    Therefore, Waldron said, the property is in violation of Lackawaxen Township zoning laws, and he recommended the township zoning officer send a letter of violation to Jones Partners LP. The supervisors agreed.
    The supervisors’ proposed non-conforming use agreement would have required Kittatinny Canoes to only use the property for boat launches and prohibited expansion of the current building.
    Township residents are worried about traffic, trespassers on nearby private property, and traffic from trucks hauling boats. They voiced their concerns at the September, October and November meetings of the board.
    The property was owned by Euell Threshman until 2010 – he died April 22, 2010. Threshman ran a business there for many years, where he charged customers for access to the Lackawaxen since the 1960s. He also provided a commercial livery service. In most situations, public and commercial access are prohibited by township zoning laws. However, this ordinance did not apply to Threshman because his business started before it was adopted in 1977. That first ordinance did not include any language regarding restricted river use.
    In 1992, the township updated its zoning laws and included a provision to halt public and commercial access on the Lackawaxen. But businesses already operating at that time were excepted from the new laws, as long as the businesses never shut down for more than a year. According to Waldron, it has been determined that the business has been in valid non-conforming use for 20 years.
    Page 2 of 2 - The proposed agreement calls for: The township to issue a certificate of use; Kittatinny Canoes to only use the property for the launching of canoes, kayaks, tubes and rafts owned by the business. It may not add any additional businesses or services, such as a store, campgrounds or other overnight accommodations, a zipline, etc.; Parking to be limited to Kittatinny Canoes employees’ and business vehicles; Kittatinny Canoes to instruct all customers using watercraft not to trespass on private property on the shoreline of the river; Kittatinny Canoes to ban alcoholic beverages from being taken on watercrafts; No expansion of the current building on the property.
    Kittatinny Canoes, however, can improve or replace the current building at the same square footage, and violations would lead to fines or revocation of zoning approval.
    Supervisors at the November board meeting said that local residents who have complaints can call the Pennsylvania Fishing Boat Commission.
    In addition, in November, Board of Supervisors Chairman Brian Stuart requested that it be clarified in the agreement that customers and the public cannot park at the property – customers must take a shuttle from one of Kittatinny’s bases. He also suggested adding a gate to the property, and Waldron agreed to make those changes and send the proposal along to Jones LP. The township received a rejection letter dated Dec. 10.
    Other business
    In other news, the board will hold a workshop meeting regarding the 2013 township budget on Dec. 28 at 9 a.m. At the township building. Then, a legal notice will be published in The News Eagle beginning Jan. 2 advertising that the budget will be voted on at the Jan. 22 meeting of the board. The 2013 reorganization meeting will take place Jan. 7, 6:30 p.m.
    In addition, Lackawaxen Township is asking residents to fill out a survey regarding a new park at the Lackawaxen Township Building complex. This is one step in the master plan development process. Residents can mail surveys to Thomas J. McLane Associates, 601 Stafford Ave., Scranton, PA 18505, or drop them off at the Lackawaxen Township Building, 169 Urban Road, Hawley. PA. Residents can obtain a copy of the survey by going to:
    http://www.lackawaxen.org/PDF_Documents/townshipparksurvey.pdf.
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