The Warren County Commissioners indicated at their work session Monday afternoon that they would soon be moving forward on removing Farmington Township from the county zoning ordinance.
During a May 23 public meeting on another issue, a letter dated May 1 was received from the Farmington Township Supervisors requesting withdrawal from the zoning ordinance. The commissioners agreed at the time to take the necessary steps to release the township from the ordinance.
According to County Planner Dan Glotz, a number of steps must be taken by both the county and the township before zoning authority can be handed over.
At the county level, the Warren County Planning and Zoning Commission must first review the request and approve it. According to Glotz, the commission is scheduled to review the matter at its meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
"We have it tentatively scheduled for our next meeting," Glotz said Monday afternoon.
Glotz said an advertised public hearing could then be held to gain community feedback and allow discussion of the issue. After that hearing, the commissioners would be able to take action to amend the county zoning ordinance to exclude Farmington Township.
At the township level, the supervisors would need to develop a map dividing Farmington Township into zoning districts. A public hearing would need to be held to allow comment on the move. Finally, the township would have to formally adopt the map and enact a zoning ordinance of its own before the county could relinquish zoning authority.
The commissioners received a request from the Transit Authority of Warren County's board of directors requesting they appoint members to fill three positions with terms expiring in July. Directors Dave Reagle, Jamie Steffan and Gene Conklin have indicated a willingness to accept five-year renewals of their terms. The commissioners noted the three have been on the board for many years. The matter was tabled until official action could be taken at the commissioners' next regular meeting.
Commissioner John Bortz highlighted the efforts of the Northwest Pennsylvania Workforce Investment Board, an organization he and Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Jim Decker are both members of. Bortz said the group was, "trying to get more input locally".
"We're trying to get empowered locally so we can get our fair share (of funding) from the region," Bortz said.
The Northwest Pennsylvania board provides service for Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Venango, and Warren counties .
Commissioner John Eggleston noted he attended the Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission meeting last Friday. Eggleston, along with Decker and Mike Olewine of the Warren County Visitors Bureau, sit on the commission board.
According to Eggleston, the board has agreed on a new executive director after months of screening applicants. Eggleston declined to name the new executive director and the commission's website did not have a listing for that person. The commission had not responded to inquiries on the subject by early evening Monday.
"We'll be glad to get somebody good at the helm," Eggleston said.
According to Eggleston, one of the commission's goals is to provide guidance for community development, both for businesses and non-profit organizations. As an example, he noted Beacon Light is working with the commission in developing its facilities in North Warren.
Eggleston and Bortz both pointed out the commission staff has shrunk in recent years due to government funding cuts. Most of the commission's funding comes from state and federal sources with only approximately $2,500 per-county coming in as dues.
"As the programs go, the people who work those programs go, too," Eggleston noted.
The commissioners pointed out an Edinboro University program to help small business start-ups, which was funded by the commission, has taken on a smaller role in development in the county.
"For a small business owner," Eggleston lamented, "I don't know if I'd want to try it now. It's a casualty of budget cuts... It's too bad in my opinion."
Bortz agreed starting a business can be difficult, "with the current regulatory standards," and concurred the cuts to programs for small start-ups was regrettable.