Farmington Township is officially zoning free.
At their meeting Wednesday morning, the Warren County Commissioners voted unanimously to pass an ordinance removing Farmington Township from the county's zoning ordinance and map.
The action takes effect immediately.
"All the steps have been taken, I guess, and I feel if the people of Farmington don't want this it'll come down to the next election (of township supervisors)," Commissioners Chairman Stephen Vanco said
The decision followed nearly five months of discussion and meetings on the matter.
The issue first came before the commissioners in May when they received a letter from the Farmington Township Supervisors requesting the municipality be removed from the county's consolidated zoning ordinance.
On June 5, the Warren County Planning Commission officially opposed the move, citing a strong support for zoning regulations. The Farmington Township Supervisors have said they do not intend to enact a zoning ordinance at the township level.
A township which enacts its own zoning ordinance would not need the commissioners' approval as, under Pennsylvania law, the township ordinance would supercede the county ordinance.
The commissioners did not receive a formal petition for removal from the zoning ordinance until August. At their meeting on Aug. 7, the township supervisors approved submission of the petition to the county.
On Sept. 17, a public hearing on the matter was held at the Lander Fire Hall to allow public comment on the supervisors' petition to remove Farmington Township from the zoning ordinance. Opinions on the issue conflicted at the time.
"We can do a better job here in our own municipality," Farmington Township Supervisor Scott Wenzel said at the meeting.
A Farmington Township resident argued, "I see no protection from unwanted development (without zoning)."
At their Sept. 27 meeting, the county commissioners voted to approve a motion to, "... amend the zoning ordinance to reflect the withdrawal of Farmington Township." That did not settle the matter because a vote on the actual amended ordinance had to be taken.
Following a brief public comment period Wednesday morning, which featured input from Farmington Township residents on both sides of the issue, the commissioners granted the township's request to be removed from zoning.
Although the vote was unanimous, all three county commissioners said they support zoning, but they cited a desire to allow local governments to act as they see fit.
"I personally support zoning," Commissioner John Eggleston said. "I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks... I also think we live in a representative government... So I will be voting for this because I respect the decision of the elected officials at the local level."
According to County Planning Director Dan Glotz, the county zoning ordinance was amended to include Farmington Township following a public hearing in 1969.
As part of Wednesday's action, the county zoning map was altered to exclude Farmington Township. The entire township is now designated as unzoned regardless of previous designations.
The Farmington Township supervisors will have to act to implement a flood plain ordinance. They had been covered under the county flood plain ordinance, which is included in the county's zoning ordinance.
Farmington Township joins 11 other municipalities in the county which are not part of the county ordinance. Some, including Pittsfield and Brokenstraw townships, have no zoning in place, while others, including the Youngsville Borough and the City of Warren, handle zoning themselves.