“Thankless” job for Amity plow drivers

Amity Township Manager Charles E. Lyon said Feb. 19 that the township’s 15 road crew and sewer plant employees worked 52.5 hours “straight” -- starting Thursday, Feb. 13 -- to clear the area’s roads of snow.

Lyon and Public Roads Foreman Alistair Howell-Clark said despite the ultimate benefit of access to the roads, plow trucks encountered hostility from local residents who threw objects at them and attempted to block them by stepping in front of the trucks.

“I want people arrested if they ever again throw things at the trucks or run out in front,” said Supervisor Paul R. Weller at the Feb. 19 Board of Supervisors meeting.

Howell-Clarke said “over-achievers” who shovel the ends of their driveways before their streets are plowed can expect that their driveways will be plowed in.

Lyon said residents must clear a two-foot-wide sidewalk path within 24 hours of the “cessation” of snow.

The daily penalty is not to exceed $1,000.

Residents who have a fire hydrant on their sidewalks are also responsible for removing snow between the hydrant and the street.

“If a house is on fire -- the first priority now -- I need to take one to two men to find the hydrants and dig them out,” said Amity Fire Department Chief Michael Zomolsky.

Lyon said the Jan. 26 fire that destroyed the former Friendship Farm Market, Old Swede Road, was due in part to water frozen in the nearby fire hydrant, as well as possible low water pressure.

“Someone needs to call Pennsylvania American Water Company when fire companies are out drawing down water,” said Lyon.

Board Chairwoman Kimberly J. McGrath said the township received five objections (out of 181 property owners notified) regarding the proposed Amityville Rural Village Ordinance.

She said one objection was regarding the concern of “chain businesses” locating in the village.

The board is expected to vote on the ordinance at its March 19 meeting.

Ordinance #266 would change the zoning from medium density residential (MDR) -- and some low density residential -- for the establishment of low-impact and home occupation type businesses on 181 properties along Old Swede and Weavertown roads, from Pine Forge Road west to Geiger Road. (The ordinance is 24 hours.)

More than 50 residents attended the Jan. 15 public hearing regarding for the RV zoning amendment.

Many residents questioned the need for rural village zoning, the likelihood of its success, and whether market studies were conducted.

“I like the township the way it is -- don’t need more businesses, and I want to keep the open space,” said Matthew Weiss, 1900 Weavertown Road.

“We don’t want to lose the rural village feel,” said Supervisor Terry L. Jones. “Land development plans would need to conform with planning, zoning, parking requirements. It’s not opening the door for what can’t be opened.”

Weller said a local hair salon recently closed because the two owners couldn’t get along.

Board members said the former Friendship Farm is normally closed during the winter and the owners were going to re-open this spring.

“Under the current zoning, the former Amity Primary Center cold be 60 efficiency apartments -- the school district could sell the building to a developer,” said Jones.

He added that the land currently zoned MDR could be sold and contain single family dwelling units of a much higher density.

“Every corner [of the tentative Rural Village Zoning District] is an existing non-conforming business,” said Jones.

If the RV ordinance is approved, those businesses would be “by-right” permitted businesses for the zoning district.

Future applicants for permitted businesses could avoid paying the $550 Zoning Hearing Board fee by appearing before the Board of Supervisors for approval.

A conditional use hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 20, to hear the application of Pineapple Lane, LLC, Collegeville, for a catering, conference center, and office use at 207 East Old Philadelphia Pike, Douglassville.

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