By request of the Farmington Township Supervisors, the municipality may soon be facing a future free of zoning divisions.
Rather than forming a regulatory body to decide zoning issues, the township is moving to join a handful of other Warren County municipalities as un-zoned areas.
The issue is moving toward resolution one step at a time, but it raises the question of what regulations property owners are still required to follow in the absence of zoning divisions.
According to County Planning Director Dan Glotz, un-zoned municipalities do not equate to regulation free zones.
Municipalities are responsible for sewage service and treatment, regardless of status under the county ordinance. They also must handle stormwater management under Pennsylvania law.
Those municipalities not under the purview of the ordinance must also have an independent flood plain ordinance in place.
Construction work within the municipality must adhere to the rules of the Uniform Construction Code under the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act. The extensive code, according to Glotz, "covers everything from footer to roof peaks" of building and alteration work. Glotz noted there are a handful of things excluded from the code, such as agricultural buildings and accessory dwellings under 1,000 square feet. Glotz said most municipalities contract an independent expert to handle compliance with code regulations.
Un-zoned municipalities, Glotz noted, still have the authority to enact specific ordinances of their own to deal with potential building issues.
The municipalities and property owners must also adhere to environmental regulations under the authority of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). According to Pittsfield Township Board of Supervisors Chairman David Turner, the DEP has extensive regulations regarding work near streams and other water sources. Pittsfield is currently an un-zoned area.
"We're so regulated by everything else we don't really need it (zoning)," Turner said. "We don't appear to have a problem at this time."
The Warren County Planning Commission, during discussion of the matter at their regular meeting June 5, recommended the Warren County Commissioners not approve Farmington's request and noted they strongly support zoning regulations.
Turner doesn't necessarily agree. "As far as saying you can have industrial here and residential here, we don't worry about it and everything seems to go fine," Turner said. "I applaud those guys. Some people think its a step backward. I personally do not."
Farmington Township Supervisors did not respond to requests for comment on the issue.