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December 21, 2010

Zoning law urged with tires-to-energy plant on the way

MEADVILLE — With a proposed tires-to-energy plant possible in Greenwood Township, the Crawford County Planning Commission is strongly urging the township’s board of supervisors to consider enacting a zoning ordinance.

While such ordinances have been rejected by township residents in the past, the chairman of Greenwood Township’s supervisors said a change may be discussed if there is enough support.

The comment came in the planning commission’s written report approved Monday during the commission’s review of the land development plan of the Meadville Power Station.

The proposed $337 million facility by Crawford Renewable Energy LLC would be located on an 86.6-acre section of Keystone Regional Industrial Park in Greenwood Township. It would produce 90 megawatts of electricity by chopping and then burning scrap tires to fuel the plant.

An application for an air quality permit — a key phase in the project’s development — is now undergoing technical review by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. In addition, a permit application for waste tire processing and storage of tire-derived fuel and a permit application for industrial waste-water treatment for the plant have been received within the past few weeks by DEP.

In its review comments, the planning commission noted Greenwood doesn’t have a zoning ordinance — only a township comprehensive land use plan that was updated in 2009; a subdivision and land development ordinance dating from 1986; a storm water management ordinance from 1995; and the county’s comprehensive plan updated in 2008.

Also, there are design standards by the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County, which owns the Keystone Regional Industrial Park, according to the planning commission. Those standards would have to be met by any development project in the industrial park before the project would be approved by the Alliance’s board of directors.

“With this in mind, the commission would strongly urge the township supervisors to instruct their planning commission to investigate the necessity of a zoning ordinance for Greenwood Township moving forward and without delay,” the comments said. “Without a zoning ordinance at the municipal level this commission cannot review a host of relevant features that are paramount in approving a development of this size.”

The county planning commission can’t comment on such issues as height limitations, screening and landscaping, accessory buildings and uses, off-street parking and loading, signs, outdoor lighting, waste containers and waste yards.

“This project doesn’t end at its chain-link fence,” Jack Lynch, county planning director, told the county planning commission Monday.

The written comments also noted “with the size and scope of the development clearly in mind, a carefully articulated zoning ordinance contains ‘districts’ for certain uses by right. Other uses are accommodated by special exception or conditional use.”

Cecil Stevenson, chairman of Greenwood Township’s board of supervisors, said it was unknown if supervisors would consider looking at adding a zoning ordinance.

“I don’t know, I haven’t seen the report yet,” Stevenson said Monday night in a telephone interview. “As far as myself, I can’t address the issue. It’s a board decision.”

Stevenson, a long-time township resident and supervisor, said zoning had been proposed in the 1960s, but was rejected.

It was brought up again in the 1980s when the township’s comprehensive plan was first drafted, but the residents didn’t want it then either, Stevenson said.

“Things may have changed,” he said. “It’s always open for discussion.”

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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