Supervisors say Route 322 won’t be rezoned

VE-Around-County
By JUDITH O. ETZEL
Contributing writer

A request to rezone a stretch of Route 322 in Cranberry Township has been nixed due to a lack of action on the part of the township supervisors.

“It’s done, it’s gone away,” said supervisor Harold Best after a 30-minute meeting Tuesday night. “The (township) planning commission would have to bring it back to us and they can if they want to.”

The revelation that the appeal to rezone the area, one that stretches from the Sheetz convenience store to Horsecreek Road, from residential to commercial came only after Marilyn Brandon asked if a decision had been made. Brandon is one of several residents along Route 322, a highway that includes some commercial businesses, who have vehemently objected to any change.

A public hearing on Oct. 12 focused on the township planning commission’s recommendation that the highway section be rezoned. The move was prompted by local businessman Scott Snow, who owns three parcels along the highway and intends to use them for a commercial enterprise.

In addition, the township’s new comprehensive plan earmarks routes 322 and 257 for commercial development. The planning commission had strongly suggested that the zoning change should be made.

No decision was made following the public hearing or at any subsequent supervisors meeting. However, there was a legal caveat that required such a decision be made within 45 days of the public proceedings. That time has expired.

“We had 45 days to pass a vote,” said Fred Buckholtz, chairman of the supervisors. “If we don’t vote tonight, (the zoning change) will not take effect.”

While some members of the audience interpreted that as meaning the decision was tabled, Buckholtz said after the meeting that the issue is moot.

Library issue resurfaces

Eleanor Hrinya, a township resident and longtime advocate for the area’s public libraries, made a final pitch for more funding for the Oil City Library.

In their tentative 2018 budget, the supervisors plugged in a $10,000 payment to the library. In addition, they earmarked $5,000 to reimburse township residents for a $30 annual library card.

The Oil City Library, now part of the three-library Oil Region Library Association, had asked Cranberry for a $30,000 annual payment, based on a per capita fee, that would allow free access to all township residents to the Oil City, Franklin and Cooperstown public libraries.

“The budget should reflect the values of the community,” said Hrinya, adding that a $5,000 account would pay for “only 166 families.”

There are 2,501 households in the township, she said, adding, “Give Cranberry residents the ability to use the public library system at no cost.”

Bonnie Summers, a township resident, echoed Hrinya’s sentiments and said, “I support that, giving access to a public library … for all ages.. It’s a place of knowledge and culture and a place we don’t want to lose in our community.”

Another township resident said he pays the $30, a figure he admitted “is a good deal but could be a lot of money for some people,” and uses the library because “there is a lot of information to get just with that library card” such as car repair manuals and more.

Buckholtz, Best and supervisor Jerry Brosius didn’t offer any comments on whether the budget figures for the library might be tweaked prior to adoption next month.

No casinos here

The supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution that the township would not be agreeable to having a casino open within its turf.

A statewide organization representing townships had asked its members to consider whether they would accept a casino, the subject of a state initiative to allow more licensed casinos to open in Pennsylvania.

Add your comments

Township manager Chad Findlay said he is encouraging residents to respond to a survey concerning a proposal that could change the Route 8 corridor from Franklin to Barkeyville from a four-lane to a two-lane highway.

The survey is being conducted by the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce. PennDOT is studying whether traffic volume, high maintenance costs and projected major repairs are justified in keeping the highway a four-lane stretch.

“It’s an important stretch of road for us,” said Findlay.

A holiday tree

Snow suggested Cranberry ought to have a large and decorated Christmas tree in place for the holidays. Buckholtz said a Girl Scout troop had decorated a tree at Moody Pond in previous years and may be on track to repeat that this year.

“I think it would be awesome for Cranberry to put up a big tree every year,” said Snow, offering to oversee the project if no one else comes forward.