It took four months for the Farmington Township Supervisors to go through the process required for the Warren County Commissioners to consider amending the county zoning ordinance.
Township residents will have to wait a little while longer for a definitive answer.
The commissioners held a public hearing at the Lander Fire Hall on Monday night to discuss the petition to remove Farmington Township from the county-wide zoning ordinance and eliminate zoning districts within the township.
Warren County Commissioner John Eggleston said a decision would probably be made in October, possibly during the commissioners' Oct. 10 meeting.
"Why are we under Warren County zoning?" Farmington Township Supervisor Ed Beardsley asked during the public hearing. "We have another level of bureaucracy we've got to go through. We been held up for weeks, sometimes months, trying to get issues resolved. I don't think that's necessary. We still fall under the DEP (state Department of Environmental Protection), EPA (federal Environmental Protection Agency), Clean Waters and Streams Act, Uniform Building Code, on and on and on. Do we really need to be governed by Warren County Zoning to tell what we can do and when we can do it?"
Beardsley said he hasn't been able to find any evidence that the township supervisors decided to adopt the county zoning ordinance in 1969 and the township has a nuisance ordinance that "handles just about everything that comes down the pipe."
Farmington Township Supervisor Scott Wenzel said he agreed with Beardsley and leaving the county zoning ordinance would remove one more layer of government.
"We can do a better job here in our own municipality," Wenzel said.
Township resident Harold Bloomgren said he supports the township staying within the county zoning ordinance.
"Zoning regulations can serve to preserve the Farmington community...I see no protection from unwanted development," he said.
"We'll take it on ourselves," one resident said. "If it were here, we'd have three supervisors to talk to and tell them our feelings."
Irene Johnson, Farmington township resident and solicitor for the Warren County Zoning Hearing Board, said if the township does leave the county zoning ordinance, the supervisors would not be the ones addressing each zoning issue down the road.
There would either be no county zoning in the township, or there would be a Farmington Township Zoning Board that would have to be created with township residents and a solicitor who is not working for the township, she said.
"If the decision is made ultimately that Farmington Township does not remain in the county zoning ordinance, then there is another decision to be made and that is will Farmington engage in zoning at all," Johnson said. "If Farmington enters into a zoning ordinance it isn't going to be your supervisors that are enforcing that, because the zoning ordinance is typically addressed by a zoning hearing board, in some measure."
"We always talked about being a unzoned, period," Beardsley said. "We have no intent on running a zoned community."
The issue of zoning in Farmington Township formally began with a letter from the township supervisors requesting removal from the county zoning ordinance, which was presented to the county commissioners at a public meeting on May 23. In the letter, the supervisors wrote, "The current board of supervisors questions the validity of our participation, and our own research is unable to verify any action by Farmington Township which would substantiate our relinquishing planning and zoning activities to the county."
The Warren County Planning and Zoning Commission at its June meeting recommended that the commissioners not allow the "secession" of Farmington Township from the zoning ordinance.
During that meeting, County Planning Director Dan Glotz said he had found records of a public hearing on Sept. 8, 1969 which led to official action amending the county zoning ordinance to add Farmington Township. "I find it hard to believe the county would just randomly zone Farmington Township without official request," Glotz said in June. "Otherwise, the whole county would be zoned."
The zoning ordinance currently does not include municipalities that have no zoning, such as Brokenstraw and Pittsfield townships or those who zone themselves, such as the City of Warren and Youngsville Borough.
Because the township did not express a desire to enact its own zoning regulations, the commissioners had to approve the move. If the township went through the necessary steps to handle zoning itself, its ordinance would automatically supersede the county ordinance under Pennsylvania law.
The petition states, "The board of Supervisors of Farmington Township have determined that it is in the best interest of the Township and its citizens to withdraw from the Warren County Zoning Ordinance."
The supervisors took action at their meeting on Aug. 7 and "approved the submission of a Petition to the Warren County Board of Commissioners to remove Farmington Township from the Warren County Zoning Ordinance."