The Van Wyck News
|Volume 5 Number 14
||A Voice for Freedom||30 October 2013|
The Ivy Place
A few years ago Terry and Genie Graham decided to begin hosting parties such as wedding receptions on the grounds of their beautifully landscaped 1850s era home on Van Wyck Road. A number of visits to the Lancaster County Planning Department (PD) produced no reasons not to proceed, so Van Wyck was blessed with The Ivy Place, a number of people have been provided with memorable weddings, delicious strawberries in the spring, etc. and Lancaster County has incubated another profitable business.
A few months ago, the Planning Department received a request from a resident of another area of the County who wants to build a structure and go into the business of providing parties. The PD developed a zoning definition of a Banquet Hall to accommodate this individual. This definition unfortunately covers The Ivy Place, Craig Farm, Rosewood and several other facilities around the county as well. It would require extensive changes in these existing businesses that would largely destroy the beauty of the landscaping that is the foundation of their success. This definition was presented to the Planning Commission for approval on 15 October. It was pointed out during the public hearing that harm would be caused to existing businesses by approval of the proposal, but the Planning Department recommended approval anyway and the Planning Commission agreed.
On 28 October this matter was brought before County Council. During the presentation, the PD made the point that all these businesses were in violation of the zoning law and Steve Willis, County Administrator, pointed out that although the County did not seek out such violations, that because the violations had become known, some type of enforcement action would be necessary. This is a ridiculous situation. These people saw a need and came up with elegant ways to fill it, went to the PD for guidance, received none and are now being forced to retain attorneys and spend money because the PD finds them in violation of the zoning law. This is a deficiency on the part of the law and the PD which the citizens are being required to spend money to fix.
Fortunately, County Council saw the situation for what it was and passed the ordinance on first reading, then remanded it to the PD for revision to allow the existing businesses to continue in operation unimpeded. Mr. Willis agreed that as long as an ordinance is pending, no enforcement action would be required.
A few weeks ago a reader wrote to ask if Agenda 21 was coming to Lancaster County. My answer at the time was "not yet," but here is a clear example of the citizens becoming servants of the government rather than the government serving the needs of the citizens. The approach mandated by County Council (make sure that the existing businesses are preserved) should have been automatic in the Planning Department and Planning Commission, especially after the potential for damage was pointed out in advance.
Editor's note: I am glad that I had the opportunity to bring this situation to the attention of the affected businesses while it was still in the Planning Commission. The notice gave them time to get something done.
- - J.R. Wilt
County Council has scheduled a joint meeting with the Planning Department and Planning Commission (PDPC) for 4 November 2013 at 5:30 PM in the County Administration Building as Operation Cramdown continues. The avowed purpose of the meeting is to provide the PDPC with guidance concerning the latest version of the Cluster Development Proposal. The actual purpose is to submit reluctant members of County Council to a high pressure sales pitch, since no member of either the PC or County Council can express an opinion concerning the matter as it is properly before both bodies.
Operation Cramdown is the name given to the nearly year long effort by the Planning Department, Planning Commission (PDPC) and some members of County Council to force acceptance of a Cluster Development Ordinance on an unwilling populace and particularly to force acceptance of the development of the Treetops site in Van Wyck with 1000 homes using a Cluster Development ordinance. This development alone will require about $50MM in infrastructure costs for schools, roads, police, fire, EMS, etc. to be paid by all the current taxpayers of the County. When combined with other developments already approved in the immediate area, more than $200MM will need to be raised through taxation on current residents to provide required infrastructure for 11,000 new residents, including 2500 new school age children. For comparison, the County General Fund Budget for the current year is about $38MM, the School District budget is abut $90MM and the population of the three (soon to be four) Indian Land schools id about 2600 students. These changes are planned to take place over the next six or seven years as the developents build out.
The reason for opposition by local residents is obvious - this proposal is fiscal insanity piled on top of the years of fiscal insanity that has characterised the development of Indian Land. Not only that, the ordinance itself is deeply flawed; essentially a profit making tool for developers, understandable because the Planning Department encouraged Matamy Homes, the developer who plans to use Cluster Development on the Treetops site, to hire a consultant to write the ordinance on behalf of Lancaster County. County Council and the PDPC continue to maintain that there is nothing improper in this arrangement, although the conflict of interest is obvious to anyone else who looks at it.
What is puzzling is what County Council and the PDPC have to gain by imposing this measure on an unwilling population. Public opposition to the Cluster Development Proposal has been widespread and well known for at least six months, during which time the PDPC has stubbornly insisted that the Proposal will come to pass, wasting time that could have been spent on more useful activities.
Should Operation Cramdown succeed and Cluster Development become law despite the extensive opposition, it is expected to lead to a flurry of new development proposals as developers seek to gain position by implementing the New Big Thing. These development proposals will lead to a lot of new residents and a very large need for infrastructure which there is no plan to fund or build. How incurring potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in obligations with no plan to fulfill or pay for them will be a benefit to the County is beyond me. For me, at least, the plan comes first.
The Community Development Club Halloween Party went off as scheduled on Saturday 26 October with beautiful weather, lots of beautifully costumed kids and adults, games, food and fun. This party is provided for the children of the Van Wyck community free of charge on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Our community is spread out and uses large lots, which make it difficult and dangerous for children to enjoy more traditional Trick or Treat activities on Halloween evening. Instead they can come to the Community Center on a Saturday afternoon and enjoy a costume party with free games, food and fun and leave with a bag full of goodies much like what they would have had from a night of traditional Trick or Treating. This all happens in the building and on the grounds of the Community Center with plenty of adult supervision, a very safe environment for children of all ages and a Happy Halloween. Thanks to everyone who helped and participated.
Tuesday, November 5, 7:00 PM CrimeWatch, CDC Meeting.
Thursday, Novermber 7. 7:00 PM - Bluegrass at the Community Center.admissions is free but donations are accepted. Free soup as long as it lasts, snacks and drinks for sale.
Saturday, November 30, 9:00 a.m. Put up Christmas Lighting Poles and chili
Tuesday December 3, 7:00 PM CrimeWatch and Community meeting, put up Christmas decorations
Saturday, December 7, noon, Van Wyck Christmas Parade and Candy Toss. 2:00 PM put out candles and globes for Lighting the Way.
Sunday, December 8, 4:30p.m. Lighting Of The Way
Feeding the Hungry
Donations to Lancaster County food programs have fallen off recently. The recession increases the number of people facing hunger and the need for food. The Van Wyck Press is happy to transport food to the agencies serving the needy in Lancaster. If you have food that you would like to donate and would like us to transport it for you, let me know.