Decision against zoning map change in Trout Run recommended

The Lycoming County Planning Commission unanimously agreed to recommend the county commissioners vote against approving a zoning map amendment application which would allow the retail chain Dollar General to put up a new store along Route 14 northbound in Trout Run. The application was submitted in February.

John Lavelle, municipal services supervisor, recommended the commission vote against supporting the application after Lewis Township residents at a public meeting at the Trout Run fire hall in April determined that while many are in favor of adding another business to the community, the majority are against the location along Route 14.

The topography of the road and general speed of traffic were top concerns, Lavelle said.

“The location of the access and increase in trips will make this roadway more unsafe than it already is,” said an unnamed source in an anonymous survey used to assess the community’s desire for the store at the April meeting.

Lavelle’s recommendation also stemmed from the township supervisors’ meeting Wednesday, during which they voted unanimously against the zoning amendment. He told the commission that the planners typically try “to fulfill the wishes of the township.”

Though the application was denied, the commission members agreed that perhaps a different location would suffice.

“The community feels as though it would love to have that there,” Herm Logue Jr., commission member, said. “I think we certainly should do whatever we can to find a facility in another location.”

Bob Gage, a representative of GBT Realty, the organization applying for the zoning amendment on behalf of Dollar General, was in attendance. He informed the commission that using another site may be a possibility and the company will continue its search.

“We knew this was an uphill climb when we started, but we thought it was worth a shot to see if it was something the residents could agree to,” he said. “In the end, they obviously did not and neither did any of the boards that have voted up to this point. But, just so you know, we’re not finished yet. It’s not looking too favorable at this point, but we’re not going to give up right now.”

In other business, Deputy Director of Planning and Community Development Kim Wheeler provided an update on the county comprehensive plan, identifying eight countywide priority issues.

The first issue listed is that of infrastructure not meeting needs of all areas of the county. Second, Wheeler said communities and workforces may not be able to withstand or keep up with the changing economy. Wheeler’s third priority issue is that of “fragmentation and disenfranchisement” of local government throughout the state being a “barrier to efficient delivery of some public services.”

Other issues identified across the county include threats of flooding, land use regulation and enforcement, a lack of volunteerism and civic engagement particularly among young people, water quality and the drug epidemic with an emphasis on heroin.

A joint public hearing to receive public comment on the Montoursville and Muncy Multi-Municipal Comprehensive plan will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Muncy High School auditorium. Paper copies of the plans are on display at the James V. Brown Library, Lycoming County Department of Planning and Community Development and the Sun-Gazette. It also can be viewed online at www.lyco.org.

In attendance were Christopher E. Keiser, Carl Nolan, Larry Allison Jr., James Dunn, Howard Fry III and Logue. Absent were James Crawford, Michael Sherman and Brett Taylor.

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