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Planners look ahead while identifying big challenges

Whatever the future of Warren County looks like, the county’s planning commissions appear to know they can be part of the solution.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some tall mountains to climb.

County Planner Dan Glotz said a joint meeting of the county’s planning commissions — county, city and Youngsville — was “very beneficial and worthwhile.”

He said one outgrowth of that is the awareness that the Planning Code lays the responsibility for the county’s comprehensive plan at the feet of the commission. The development of a new version of that plan is in its infancy.

Chair Paul Pascuzzi said that plan will have the “goal to improve life in the community.”

But discussion quickly shifted to “fiefdoms” — as Commission member Gary Olson put it — that criss-cross the county.

The most visible tension is likely between the City of Warren and the rest of the county’s municipalities.

“The townships have been alienated and kicked in the teeth,” Commission member and Conewango Township Supervisor Jeff Zariczny said.

He referenced comments made by city staff questioning whether non-city residents should participating in the development of the city’s comprehensive plan. “(I) felt it was a bit disrespectful,” he said.

Olson, once the city’s mayor and now a commission member, said that “until people are working together for the good … of the county, (you) can have all the comprehensive plans you want.”

“(We) have to have ownership,” Glotz said. “We have to stop ‘we, they, this problem, that problem'” and “turn it around” to find joint solutions “rather than downgrading everything.”

Whether the county needs four high schools as well as whether the current school board regional election model is appropriate also came up.

“(I) think we live in a beautiful county,” Commission chair Paul Pascuzzi said. “I think we live in the best place on earth. I think we have some of the best opportunities ahead of us. I think that what we’ve learned from the failures of the people that have gone before us we need to build on and have success.

“That’s how it has to be done. It takes a lot of effort, time… not many people put a lot of (time and effort) into the community. That’s called apathy.”

The county’s comprehensive plan won’t solve all those problems.

But Glotz said they should focus on doing the “best we can do (to) encourage everyone to attend” throughout the plan process that is “interested in growing Warren County and making it a better place.”

CAMP AFFIDAVIT PROPOSAL SCUTTLED

Officials have been exploring the possibility of closing a loophole that allowed people to build a camp and then effectively sell it to someone for a full-time residence that would have no knowledge that it was built under a camp affidavit, exempting it from the building code.

Zoning Officer Michael Lyon told the commission that County Solicitor Nathaniel Schmidt “felt that we do not have legal standing to require applicants to require a camp affidavit along with the deed.”

Zariczny, from the municipal perspective, cited “rampant abuse of the camp (process) right now and it’s hurting us taxes-wise.”

Lyon, consulting colleagues, said it is difficult to prove that a structure isn’t a camp.

Pascuzzi said it might be an issue for the Council of Governments to address while Lyon said it would require a legislative fix.

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