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Jackson: Noise ordinance gets second hearing

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

By Ken McCarthy

Those coming to a public hearing and supervisors meeting in Jackson tomorrow may want to arrive a little early.

In February, when the township held the first public hearing on a proposed zoning change that could affect gun clubs, there was a standing-room-only crowd.

About 150 people -- many of them members of the township's three sportsmen's clubs -- packed the meeting room to get some answers.

The supervisors will hold a second hearing tomorrow and could take a final vote on the matter at their meeting to follow, said Supervisor Ralph DiLuigi.

At issue is a change that would make recreational facilities -- such as a sportmen's club or a race track -- a conditional use in certain zones instead of a permitted use. That would give the township the power to reduce the impact of such developments on the surrounding community by imposing conditions.

Members of the sportsmen's clubs were initially outraged; some called the proposal an infringement on their Second Amendment right to bear arms. The township has since worked to find some middle ground.

Supervisor Bob Goetz, a member of the Evans City Sportsmen's Club, said Thursday that his club has three outstanding questions on the matter, but they are relatively minor.

One of those issues is on how much noise can come from a recreational facility; another is on the hours that they will be permitted to operate.

In previous proposals, no sound was to be heard coming from the facility at all, at any time. But the new draft would allow a yet-undetermined decibel level from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Solicitor Blaine Lucas said.

Goetz said his club would also like to see that time extended until 10 p.m. "But they seem to like it otherwise," Goetz said. "I haven't heard any grumbling or anything."

The township planning commission earlier this month unanimously recommended the zoning change, but it forwarded comments to the supervisors.

One of those questioned whether schools would fall under the ordinance if they built facilities such as football stadiums somewhere off campus.

The supervisors said they would ask Lucas for guidance.

Township Manager Fritz Szymoniak said the ordinance could be called into use soon. She said a visitor to the township offices recently inquired about operating a daily rodeo in the township.

The pubic hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. tomorrow. The supervisors meeting will follow at 7 p.m.

Ken McCarthy is a freelance writer.

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