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Hamiltonban stands ground

Danielle Ryan

(4/13) A Hamiltonban resident wishes to subdivide her seven-acre property located on Green Ridge Road in order to build an additional home on the property. This property has bounced back and forth between the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors for the past few months, but during the April meeting the Board was tasked with voting on the Planning Commissionís recommendation.

The property in question is zoned as Woodland Conservation District, and according to the current zoning ordinance, properties within this district are required to be a minimum of five acres. However, as the Township is currently revising the zoning ordinance, proposing to change the requirement of a lot less than five acres, the Township has approved a zoning variance for this property. This variance states that the property in question may be subdivided with a minimum lot area of three acres.

Once this variance was accepted, the Planning Commission recommended that the Board approve the subdivision permitting all conditions are met. These conditions included minor waivers and modifications to the Township SALDO, sewage planning approval on the secondary property and a final condition, which has been met with the most resistance; the requirement for a road maintenance agreement signed by all those who live on the lane, to be approved by the Township Solicitor.

The propertyís private lane lies in both Hamiltonban and Franklin Township, which slightly complicates the requirement for a road maintenance agreement. However, as part of the current ordinance, a road maintenance agreement is required of a new subdivision. As Supervisor Chairman, Bob Gordon stated, "The Township would like to see this happen, but unfortunately the township has a lot of rules and regulations that it has to followÖsometimes they are not all nice." The property owner argued that Hamiltonban couldnít force anyone in Franklin Township to sign a maintenance agreement because they donít have this condition as part of their township ordinance. Township Solicitor Matthew Battersby disagreed.

Battersby noted that the road maintenance agreement is required because it is fundamentally a public safety concern; the Township needs to know that emergency vehicles can safely travel on the private lane. In fact, the fire department requested the road maintenance agreement to be made a part of the ordinance. The property owner noted that there has never been an issue with keeping the road maintained; all those who reside on that private lane contribute in some form to the maintenance of the lane.

As Battersby noted, the Township is asking for another road maintenance agreement, even though the property owners have a maintenance agreement on their original deed, because the property is an additional subdivision from the original subdivision. The original deeds of the properties on that lane state that the Township has no obligation to care for the upkeep and maintenance of the private lane. The property owner also mentioned that she has already tried to submit a road maintenance agreement, but it hasnít been accepted by the Township. Battersby stated that the agreement needs to have language that will guarantee that the road be kept open and maintained by all those who reside on the lane, and the Township not be responsible for this maintenance. He even offered to draft the agreement, but his offer was turned down.

As Supervisor Coleen Reamer mentioned, there have been several other property owners that faced the same issues and hurdles, but did not go through the proper steps, or didnít wish to go through the proper steps, so they were denied the subdivision, but "everyone is under the same SALDO restrictions, so we have to treat everyone the same."

For now, the Township approved the subdivision as long as the three conditions are met, including the Solicitorís approval of a signed road maintenance agreement.

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