Tuesday, March 13, 2007

GettysBLOG: The Townships! Save Them from Themselves!

Talk is generating interest in the merging of townships among several in southwestern Adams County.

Trust us when we tell you that this would only make it easier for developers to come in and build their mega-developments. For example, if Butler and Cumberland were to merge, the developer up in Butler would have had a much easier time establishing water and sewer plans for his large development. It cost him a lot of money to redo the plans to suit both townships.

The answer to the problems in the townships lies at the ballot box, not in mergers. Voters need to ascertain which are the developer-friendly supervisors, and supervisor candidates, and begin removing them from office. Voters should demand more background and better questions from their developer friendly newspaper, too, when they profile the candidates before an election. The same old nonsensical general questions will no longer do. Better questions would be “How would you, or your family benefit from a large development in your township?”, “What jobs have you held in the past 20 years besides township jobs?”, "Do any of your immediate family or other relatives work in Adams County in the building trades, or construction work?”, and finally, "Are you or any family members involved in a business that would benefit in any way from large developments in Adams County?”.

An example is the man running for Straban Supervisor who spent so much time running their Planning or Zoning Board over the years. He is proud of the job his committee did when it rezoned almost 11,000 acres of Straban Township green space as suitable for development. This gentleman needs to find something else to do. He will not be suitable for Straban Township government.

Those questions would be appropriate for County Commissioners and candidates for County Commissioners as well.

Is it time for five County Commissioners in Adams County? We think so. Others need to share in the proceeds of runaway development.

Farewell to Tom Weaver, now on his way to the Pennsylvania Department of State, leaving the County Commission in the hands of two Republicans.

Whatever will we do without him? Yawn! He is well gone. He was so disconnected he claimed to be pro-open space preservation, yet he loudly and actively backed the casino project, in fact, still does! Let’s see, 100 acres paved over and developed, versus preserving open space. Hmmmm…

If the townships are seeking relief then perhaps it is time to float the idea of Single County Authorities. These are small boards elected by the voters county wide, to serve in specialty areas. For example, an Adams County Emergency Services Authority, which would cover Police, Fire, and Emergency Medical agencies throughout the county, paid for by county taxes, and capable of receiving better and larger, and more frequent grants from the State and the Federal Government. Sharing the resources (how many local township police would like to be able to use the Lie Detector that is sitting unused in Gettysburg Police Department’s spaces?

More on the Single County Authority idea: A single County Water and Sewer Authority would have the ability to control all the development of water and sewer lines throughout the County, be responsible for all water supplies, and for the many sewage treatment plants. This would allow standardization and uniform fees. It would also allow control over development throughout the county. There is, of course, the premise that there is only a finite quantity of water in Adams County, as we have seen the past few years when drought have hit, and the promise of a huge water main running across York County from the Susquehanna to Gettysburg and west smacks of somebody, somewhere getting rich, and dangerous ecologically for the Chesapeake Bay. Nobody knows how much effect it would have on power generation by Conowingo Dam based on reduced flow. It is water that will likely never return to the Susquehanna Basin, though some would flow back to the bay via the Potomac. You are taking water from one basin and pumping it to another.

Adams County School District: a single county education board that would handle administration for all schools in the county, and set tax rates as well. Better control, fewer administrators, and taxes will go down.

Adams County Development Authority: a board which would have approval over all development in the County, including whether it is fit for the setting, allows enough preserved green space, allows agriculture to continue as a viable, profitable business in Adams County, and does not violate the concept of the Civil War Trails (115 miles along the Route 15 Corridor – sorry Cumberland, Straban and Mt. Joy! No big developments or commercial parks!). This board would also handle Redevelopment, and use Redevelopment as the first stop when new projects are proposed.

Single county authorities can end inter-township squabbles, and prevent many of the problems the chaotic government we now have with our collection of monied and non-monied townships.

But best of all, Townships would retain their zoning power under single county authorities. They would be able to defend themselves better against rampant runaway development. As things stand now with township governments, the people have been divided and are in the process of being conquered.

No one likes bad economic news, but we must admit, lo these many months we have been leaping and clicking our heels at the downturn in the housing market. That is new construction of housing. It has seriously slowed the runaway development in Adams County, thus denying much illicit income to parties in power, and frustrating their attempts to pave over the county.

The biggest questions right now are: What is going on at Cumberland Township Municipal Building? What is this “plan” they have for expansion? Why do they need a plan for expansion, is someone trying to build a casino in Cumberland Township? Why has no one heard of this plan? Why is their website so woefully behind? And why do they keep changing their meetings schedule and then complaining when no one shows up?

Watch out Adams County, the “Strabaddies” are about to be over taken on the Post Office wall by the “Cumberland Township Gang”! Some of that Cumberland Township Gang has been in office far too long. Time for fresh faces, but please! Give us candidates who are solidly for open space, and controlled growth. Yes, townships can and should change their ordinances, and yes, they do NOT have to allow large developments. They do not have to allow ANY development. When they tell you they do, they are lying.

Time to take control of the Ballot Box again folks! Need a Clean Sweep here in Adams County. Need some people with integrity to run for office.

We need to save this county. Just because the casino was denied for now does not mean the fight is over. It was only a symbol.

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