Hanover Twp.--Supervisors ponder medical marijuana sites
Is medical marijuana coming to Hanover Township? Supervisors voted unanimously at their Oct. 11 meeting to establish zones for medical marijuana facilities. But hold off on those brownie recipes. Supervisors will zone for it, but that’s a far cry from it happening anytime soon.
Steve Salvesen asked why the township is zoning for something prohibited by federal law. Solicitor Jim Broughal said the federal government has taken no action against states that now permit medical marijuana or, for that matter, recreational marijuana.
Recreational marijuana is currently legal in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia. That trend is growing, too. On Election Day, citizens will decide whether to legalize recreational use in five additional states: Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada.
Medical marijuana is permitted in 24 states, including Pennsylvania. Broughal told supervisors that zoning gives them control over where medical marijuana facilities will be permitted. “You don’t have to pass the ordinance,” he advised. “But tomorrow, somebody’s going to walk into your township, and in a residential district, they’re going to put in a dispensary. And you can’t stop them because the law in the state of Pennsylvania provides for these uses, and you need to provide for these uses, or else you’re going to be found to be exclusionary in zoning. And they will challenge your ordinance and they will win.”
Under Pennsylvania law, if a municipality fails to zone for a use permitted by state law, a person can establish that use wherever he wants. Broughal said he wants the township to “get out ahead of this,” and establish zones for medical marijuana facilities where they belong. “Your choice would be where to put it.”
Though Salvesen told Broughal he understood and voted to advertise an ordinance, he was unhappy about being stuck with the “blowby” because “somebody has a problem with Aunt Sally or Joe or something else.”
Less controversial was an open burning ordinance, which was adopted unanimously. This ordinance continues the general rule prohibiting open burning within the township, but has exceptions for backyard fire pits.
Supervisors also conducted a conditional use hearing for Chesterbrook Academy Preschool, which wants to relocate from 1550 Valley Center Parkway to a larger, 11,000 square-foot facility at 3355 High Point Blvd. Located on about two acres, the facility will include 37 paring spaces and a fenced-in playground. Engineer Michael Gable said the daycare has a 172-child capacity and will be manned by 20 employees. Nobody opposed the application, and Supervisors are expected to make a decision at their Oct. 25 meeting.
Supervisors also honored Scoutmasters Mark W Firth, Richard L Kanaskie, Michael P Caffrey and Stephen P Dashe for years of service at Boy Scout Troop 352, which is headquartered at Notre Dame of Bethlehem Church. Those scouts participate in an annual flag retirement ceremony.
Jack Nagle, the township’s liaison with Bethlehem Area Public Library, had some good news. A tentative budget for next year reveals that there will be no increase in the per capita share currently split among Bethlehem City, Bethlehem Township, Fountain Hill and Hanover Township. Nagle said he will be at the Bookmobile at the Community Center on Halloween, wearing a costume.
“Is a clown?” deadpanned Chair John N. Diacogiannis. “That would be too creepy,” answered Nagle. “I will be a mad scientist.”