Adult entertainment addressed
Published: January 31, 2013
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DETURKSVILLE - Will nude dancing and live adult entertainment return to the Dutchmen MX Park in Rock again?
Residents wishing to comment about the possibility may appear before the Schuylkill County Zoning Hearing Board on Thursday, Feb. 7 and voice their concerns. The hearing will be held at 7 p.m. in Court Room #1 of the Schuylkill County Courthouse in Pottsville.
The notice of the impending hearing was announced during the Washington Township board of supervisions' meeting January 21. It states, "An interpretation of Stipulation and Validity Challenge to allow nude dancing and Adult Live Entertainment has been made by the Dutchmen MX Park, LLC. In the alternative, the Applicant seeks a determination that the present use of the bar is not an adult use and may be continued. The request, if granted, will allow the applicant to use the property for nude dancing and Adult Live Entertainment."
The notice further notes that the property is owned by the Dutchmen MX Park, LLC, is zoned Agricultural, and is located at 670 Rock Road. According to the notice, any person 'having standing and desiring to comment may appear and be heard.' A copy of the hearing request is available for public examination daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Planning and Zoning Office of the courthouse; for more information call 570-628-1415.
In May, 2011, about 30 residents attended the township meeting complaining about what was described as a 'strip club' proposed at the race track. Although not a supervisor at that time, Wendell Gainer noted that he had talked with 50 people who agreed they did not want that type of business in their neighborhood and at least 25 of them, he said, were ready to fight it with him. According to Gainer, the county had informed the owners, Robert and Susan Papp, that nude events were in violation of the county's zoning ordinance.
During that same time, the Papps filed a "Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief" against both the township and the county in the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania, Wilkes-Barre, claiming certain ordinances of the county were unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendment, and asked the court to declare that the ordinances did not apply to the Dutchmen Park. The Papps also requested that the court order the township to enact its own Zoning Ordinance.
Susan Smith, the county's Director of Planning and GIS (Geographic Information System), was contacted after the supervisors' meeting. According to Smith, as a result of the Papps' complaint to the Federal Court, the county and township filed a motion with the court to dismiss the complaint against both, and the court agreed.
It does not appear, the Judge concluded, that the county's Zoning Ordinance was unconstitutional on its face as the Papps had complained. "The Ordinance," he continued, "does not provide an explicit ban on adult uses, but merely limits them to certain areas and requires that they obtain a special exception." An order dismissing the motion was signed by Judge James M. Munley, United States District Court, on September 23, 2011.
The North End Fire Company fire chief, Mike Stalnecker, presented the company's 2012 annual report of activities in the area. According to the report, North End had responded to 31 calls in the township. Although his report broke down the nature of the calls for the year, it did not specify the areas in which the calls were made. The majority of the 146 calls, however, were for structure fires, 21, motor vehicle accidents, 21, landing site set ups, 21, automatic fire alarms, 21, and brush fires, 10.
Secretary Kelly Handling noted that the supervisors had been discussing driveway permit fees at a previous meeting. The board, she said, had agreed to a $125 fee. According to Handling, Light-Heigel suggested $50 be kept by the township, and the remainder be used to pay for whatever extra work is needed. Whatever is left will be returned to the applicant.
A resident voiced a complaint about what he considered to be a blighted property in the Rock area. According to the resident there's an old mobile home and many vehicles stored on the property. "I addressed the people personally," said the resident. "Their answer was it's their property and they'll do as they please."
The resident added that there is the possibility of homes being constructed behind the property which would mean an increase in tax revenue for the township. He asked whether a suggestion from chairman Leon Lutz could be tried which was to send a letter embarrassing him by singling him out as a nuisance to his neighbors. Although solicitor Rick Wiest did not disagree, he noted that one man's blight is another man's treasure.
That property is not the only one in the township said supervisor Randy Stump, noting there's another one located near his insurance office on Route 443.
The resident noted that he was planning to attend the January 24 meeting covering blighted property in the hopes of gathering some useful information. Roadmaster Gary Neidlinger was also scheduled to attend that meeting.
The board approved a request from Matt Brandt to cross a section of the recreation area to enter a small parcel of land he owns to do about 10 days of timbering. Although he assured the supervisors he would put the township's land back as he found it, he would still like to do the project while the ground is frozen. Wiest was instructed to draw up an agreement for signing. Brandt will be expected to provide proof of insurance.
After complimenting the road crew for a job well done during the recent snow, Jim Martin remarked that it had been Brandt who had done some work at the recreation area free of charge.
In other business,
- Neidlinger was given permission to purchase two tires for one of the township trucks. The roadmaster noted that the cost per tire ranges from $239 to $350, but he would continue to look for additional prices. The board also approved a front end alignment for the truck.
- The board approved allowing a local resident to farm a 3-1/2 acre field near the recreation area again this year. According to Stump, by farming the plot, the weeds are kept down.
- Upon Neidlinger's recommendation the township will order 154 tons of salt for the 2013-14 season. According to Neidlinger, delivery of 70% is required and an additional 20% can be ordered.
- The third resident whose sewer system is to be dye tested has finally responded to a request from the township for permission to enter properties for that purpose. The problem involves what is thought to be sewage seeping onto a Spancake Road property.
- Wiest reviewed a stack of per capita tax exemption requests during the meeting and recommended that many of them should be returned for completion. He noted also that the form was not clear as to what should be done.
- Stump was appointed the township's Floodplain Administer.
- The board approved an ordinance authorizing the signing of a new contract with PMRS (Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System).
- The board approved a sewage planning module for the Sleepy Hollow subdivision which is located near Fox Road and Shady Lane. Gainer recommended Light-Heigel be alerted to the possibility of problems with sight distances required for driveway permits.