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The County is trying to take your property

How they do it.

The County is trying to take your property

Postby Sal » Mon Dec 21, 2009 6:45 pm

When zoning is changed in a community, it affects everyone including homeowners.  How will this affect your property?  Why didn’t they tell you they are rezoning?  Is it because you may have concerns?  So they do it behind you back and deny it too.

Lackawanna County working with municipalities is trying to make your land worthless.

Here is how it works.  They use Joint Zoning to do it.  If you mention Joint zoning to municipal or county officials many of them do not know what it is.  Why?  Because the people behind this came up with a cute name to conceal their real intent.  They call it planning.  SAPA the Scranton-Abington Planning Association

So what is joint zoning?

First, there is traditional zoning that has been around for a long time

In simple terms, normal zoning is a division of land within a municipality’s boundaries to allow for different types of land uses within that community.

In the year 2000, laws were written to allow for joint zoning. The intent was to allow municipalities to combine their boundaries to allow for the various land uses.

With new laws come new problems and those that would exploit them.  It may make sense to combine a few small communities to provide for the different land uses but where does it end and what does it mean.

What if a bunch of municipalities get together including a major city and under the disguise of SAPA, rezone the land within the entire area?  

What if a township that is larger than the city of Scranton rezones the undeveloped land in a way that it cannot be used for any reasonable purpose and basically renders the land worthless?

What if you own land in that township and a township official tells you, for purpose of zoning, we are part of the city of Scranton.  The reasonable things that you would like to do with your land are not permitted here because you can do that in Scranton.  So, do you pick up your land and take it to Scranton?

You may think this is far-fetched but think again.  If you own undeveloped land in Dunmore, Scranton, Newton, South Abington, Clarks Summit, Clarks Green, Glenburn, North Abington, Dalton, and West Abington, your land may be greatly devalued or rendered worthless.  The plan below clearly shows their intent.

Some of you may think that this will not affect you because you already have a business or a farm.  Think again.  If the business or farm at some point is no longer viable, the only value that is left is value in the land and if the zoning does not permit any viable use for the land, then it is essentially worthless.

In addition, the restrictive zoning may put you out of business and farmers are going to be killed by this.  Who would lend money to a business or a farmer knowing that the land that they own is essentially worthless?

Lackawanna County is involved in this.  A county planning official told me that they see nothing wrong with this and that the County is actually planning to do the same thing with the rest of the County.  In addition, the planner told me if anyone doesn’t like it they can take it to court. This is a very serious problem and if they actually get away with this in the targeted area, the remaining landowners in county are next.

We need to get organized.  Landowners may register on the home page of this website.  Click on NewtonPA home at the top of this page then click on Landowners Registration link on the home page.  We also suggest that you register on this Community Board which you can do anonymously if you like.

Check the file with the plan below to see if your property is in the current target area.
Related Files:
The Plan Large PDF file 6.6 megs
Jpg version of the plan  623 kb
Land use plan small PDF file 67 kb
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Re: The County is trying to take your land

Postby Sal » Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:22 pm

Here is an email dated 12/17/09 showing that 6 municipalities adopted the plan which I believe shows intent.  Did any of the people involved tell you what they were doing and get your permission?  

And… look near the bottom it mentions Luzerne County.  If these people are not put in their place, they will spread all over state of Pennsylvania.

Dear Friends--

    1.  Update: Wonderful News!  On Monday (Dec 14), three more municipalities adopted the SAPA Plan at their regular meetings --
        Newton Township,
        South Abington Township, and
        Clarks Green Borough.  
        GREAT APPRECIATION to the SAPA Committee members, Staff, Elected Officials and Planning Commission members in those communities!!  
        That makes six of eleven so far (the other 3 previous adoptions were: C. Summit, West Abington, and Abington).  
        The other 5 SAPA communities will take this up at future meetings (Glenburn, Dunmore, Scranton, Dalton, and North Abington).

   2. COLTS Study: SAPA Chair Lee Jamison and I attended a special COLTS meeting on Nov 19.  COLTS (County of Lackawanna Transit System) has hired the firm Clear View Strategies to help with a Route Analysis and Transit Service Planning Study. At the meeting, Lee and I mentioned some of the SAPA ideas about:
              - the transit-oriented ideas for large Employment Centers in Scranton & Dunmore ;
              - bus rapid transit between Abingtons and Scranton.  ( In a subsequent e-mail to Lynn Colosi of Clear View Strategies, and Bob Fiume, Executive Director of COLTS, I also mentioned that this could possibly take the form of light rail if not bus);
              - improved transit for the Mixed-use Corridors (striped areas on the SAPA Land Use Plan map) and Mixed-use Centers in the Plan (shades of pink, hot pink, & orange).  

Lynn Colosi from Clear View Strategies, who led the meeting, told us she has read the SAPA Plan, and congratulated SAPA and McCormick Taylor on their forward thinking.   The meeting was televised by ECTV Channel 19. Other officials and attendees also gave ideas about ways to improve bus/ transit service, and education about service.  
   If you have input re: improvement of ANY kind of transit service anywhere in Lackawanna County, you can contact Lynn Colosi at: 1-412-683-3684 or lcolosi@clearviewstrategies.com.  The Study will likely go into March. Public input is welcome.  
(Given that the Bi-County Comprehensive Plan is also going on [which includes a Long-Range Transportation Plan], I’m sure they will also welcome input for transit connecting Lackawanna Co. with Luzerne Co.   But for these ideas, I'd advise also cc'ing the e-mail to someone listed on this page: http://www.lackawanna-luzerneplans.com/Contacts.aspx.  I noticed that the most recent Land Use Plan map, which includes the transit ideas, is not yet posted on this site.)    
   Many thanks,

Denise Prowell
Secretary, Scranton-Abingtons Planning Association (SAPA)
SAPA Plan is at: http://www.sapaplan.com.  
Easiest way to see maps only: http://www.sapaplan.com/pMaps.asp
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Re: The County is trying to take your land

Postby cass » Wed Dec 23, 2009 12:45 pm

It seems they are moving quickly on this. I thought it would take a while. Lets be clear hear, if our land looses value there will be a law suit. Who in there right mind would put us with Scranton . Scranton should go down in history as the worst run and corrupt city on the planet. Dose anyone remeber the Scranton Police Home Depot story! This all has the smell of someone taking "Kick Backs".
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Re: The County is trying to take your land

Postby davidk » Wed Dec 23, 2009 6:38 pm

I understand your conceres about the SAPA plan but please be assured I have been following the situation since it's beginning.
SAPA is an overall plan which allows individual munis to protect themselves and their residents from zoning lawsuits. Local government officals still have control over local zoning the same as always. This just gives munis, such as Newton, an option to avoid undesirable developers and others from taking advantage.
For example, the whole situation with the Interstate construction business over at the old airport could and would have been avoided if we had SAPA back then. The tax $$$ that were used in tha fight would have been saved as the township could have said we have no such zoning here in Newton, you have to go to (fill in the blank) to do such. If the proposal was acceptable to the residents of Newton they could then accept it via the standard zoning laws for the township.
Bottom line is SAPA offers options, not available before.
I don't know about Lackawanna County making other munis get involved, I do not see where the county has such authority. Ransom was invited to join but declined.
Overall I see SAPA as a sound system and would like to see the other munis countywide join.
If yopu or anyone else has concerns I suggest you speak with Lee Jamison who is the SAPA president or Denise Prowell the secretary. Better yet attend the SAPA meetings which are held on a regular baiss and seek public input.
As for Luzerne County, there is a joint development plan that is being worked on. It is not like SAPA as far as I know. It is in the beginning stages and has more to do with transportation than actual zoning.
Trust me, I want nothing to do with Luzerne County, as is the case with virtually everyone I have spoken. The invisible line betwen the two counties should be made into a solid wall as far as I am concerned.
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Re: The County is trying to take your land

Postby susie » Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:08 pm

Hi David, I just took some time to look at the map and the info on SAPA. It is a very noble idea to want to reserve land for conservation and agricultural use. But looking at the map for Newton Township, for example, mostly I see it reserved for agricultural and conservation. I know Newton Township portrays itself as an agricultural township and and many would probably like it to stay that way. But my problem has to do with individual rights. How can you take a person's land and take away their choice of future use of that land and any monetary benefits that may go with it. You know that it is going to decrease the value of the land the person owns. Is SAPA going to make up the difference?
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Re: The County is trying to take your land

Postby Sal » Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:36 pm

Thanks Dave, for you input that is what makes this website great.  It is good to have people’s opinions.  Discussions can help to enlighten all of us.

I am thoroughly familiar with the airport situation because I have been actively involved in this township for 21 years and I was against the township wasting money on that.  For the readers’ sake, some things need to be clarified.  First of all, the so-called airport is not an airport.  And this needs some explaining.

When I first bought my farm 21 years ago, my barn was in very bad shape and on the verge of collapse.  I contacted the Township to get a permit to fix it and that was my first encounter with a Newton Township official.  He came out, looked  at the barn and said that I didn’t need a permit and then he threatened me.

He said, you know this is a nice township and you can do things here but if you get involved with anyone that the Township has problem with, you will never get a permit to do anything here. So I asked who are you having a problem with? He  said the airport.  And I said where is the airport?  He said it is close to you and you don’t know about it?  I said no.  Besides, I don’t understand what the problem is.  I don’t hear any noise and rarely ever see a plane.  He said that’s because it’s not a airport. But you said it was an airport.  Then he said it used to be an airport but now they make concrete there.  Boy, I started laughing I said so what’s the problem?  Making concrete is a lot safer than an airport unless they are making concrete shoes.  He said just stay out of it.

Then I asked is there anybody else that the township is having problems with. He said yes the police.  I said what is the problem with the police. He said we don’t want police here.  I said ok and thought to myself, I guess they are afraid of being locked up by the police.  
Welcome to Newton Township!  

Later I got to know the police officers and they were fine people so I help them with a fund raiser and of course I was attacked for that.

Anyway, back to the airport, that is not an airport.  The land is used by Interstate safety co. that is an employer that provides good jobs and brings in tax dollars to the township.  Interstate manufactures and installs highway safety products that save peoples lives.  SAPA member Lee Jamison fought Interstate and lost.  I guess SAPA don’t want people to know that so they call it the airport.

These are the type of untrue scare tactic that the SAPA people use to push their agenda. I’ll take Interstate Safety over SAPA as a neighbor any day.  I doubt Interstate Safety will damage the value of my property.  On the other hand, SAPA wants your land but they don’t want to pay for it so they abuse zoning law to rip you off. Don’t be fooled by SAPA people.

Watch out, with all the gas money floating around in the area their are plenty of scam artist around. Join the Newtonpa.com landowners group we do everything out in the open.  Don’t be a victim of the fraudsters.

Happy holidays.  God bless You and God bless America

------ :party:
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Re: The County is trying to take your land

Postby davidk » Thu Dec 24, 2009 6:54 pm

The maps may show much of Newton in Conservation and Ag but most activities are still allowed in an ag area, including housing developments. I know, that doesn't make sense but you have to see the zoning regs and even read the code book to get the whole gist.
The bottom line is that SAPA allows local munis to retain local control. The only real change is that munis in the plan no longer HAVE to zone areas for all uses as per US Supreme Court rulings.
For example, now we have to have an area in the township for adult book stores, gentlemens clubs, even a methadone clinic. Under SAPA Newton can avoid all these uses by saying they are allowed elsewhere in the SAPA area. If necessary exceptions can be made.
As a former Chair of the Newton Zoning Hearing Board I know the township works with landowners and others as much as possible.
The same applies to the City of Casey, excuse me Scranton. Under the old system I could go to Scranton and demand to be allowed to open a hog farm or slaugherhouse and they would HAVE to find an area, within reason, to allow me to set up shop. Under SAPA they can tell me to go to another muni as those uses are not allowed. Under the paln am I reasonably being dismissed? I think not considering the community as  whole.
Do things like adult bookstores really belong in Newton any more than a hog farm does in Scranton? As a libertarian I say no. They are not within reason and should some one apply for such, in either case, the officials would have the power to make accomidations, again within reason, or not be forced to, especially when the residents oppose such plans.
For the record I own property in Dunmore, which was our hog farm while I was growing up. Despite the barn still being functional I would need a special exemption to have hogs or other livestock there as the area is zoned special use. At the same time it protects and even raises my property values as it excludes further development in the immediate area thus ensuing privacy.
In fact I would need permission to do almost anything in that zone. And this is before Dunmore joined SAPA.
All SAPA does is give munis and their residents/property owners more options as to what is and is not allowed or even required in their areas. The plan is not perfect, but it is an advance on the old system which was a burden on the muni's.
Trust me I sat in on township meetings when they were trying to accomodate all the zones required, within reason, and sweating potential lawsuits from developers and others.
Bottom line it's all a matter of perspective.
I do not see SAPA as an intrusion on anyones general property rights. Special cases may apply, but you will have that in even a single muni with the old rules in place.
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Re: The County is trying to take your land

Postby Sal » Sat Dec 26, 2009 9:48 pm

Thanks davidk your comments make for a perfect lead to alert people of scare tactics that SAPA and the Anti everything people use.

Airport, hog farms, adult book store, developments, land fill and the plague will come to an area near you if you don’t blindly follow SAPA.  Why are they trying to scare you?  You know folks, when someone says, “trust me” it makes me skeptical.  Why are they saying that?  

You alluded that various land uses will be permitted in agriculture zone.  However, the facts are that the SAPA plan map says “Agriculture, Open Space and Limited Very Low Density Residential.”

SAPA then defines what this means on page 3 of its land use plan.  A copy of which is above and also available on the SAPA website and most municipalities.

SAPA’s Definition:

“Agriculture, Open Space & Limited, Very Low Density Residential areas are for the practice of agriculture and forestry and to be maintained as an open landscape.  Limited, very low density residential development may occur in the form of farmettes that present a low impact on the natural or agricultural landscape.”

A farmette is not farm.  According to SAPA, a farmette is a development and the only type of development permitted.  In addition, contrary to what you stated no other use is permitted.  So what is the minimum lot size for this type of development?  Some say the minimum lot size is 50 acres.

To find out the minimum lot size I asked Mr. John Roba.  Mr. Roba is in the agricultural business and on the North Abington planning commission.  Mr. Roba expressed concern about this type of restrictive zoning.  North Abington designated most of the land in the township, as agriculture and the minimum lot size for a development under the SAPA plan will be 50 acres.  Mr. Roba said if that was not bad enough, SAPA went further overlaying the area labeling it “Resource Conservation” so that it cannot be used for any purpose including farming.  

Mr. Roba is trying to do everything he can to protect their family farm before the restrictions are enforced and we wish them the best.  Yet, many other farmers may not have the resources to protect their farms and could lose everything.

A quick look at the SAPA map shows that parts of North Abington will be zoned for low density residential use. However, if you look closely at the map, you will see that most of that area is overlaid “Resource Conservation Areas” so in reality the landowners will not be able to do anything with it.

To put into perspective what SAPA is doing I will use my land as an example. I have around 68 acres that is mostly zoned for residential single-family dwellings and there are nice developments all around it.  I bought the land as an investment to use it for what it was zoned for.  I also hoped to build a new house for myself.  All of which is lawfull and doable under current zoning.  But with the SAPA plan, my investment will be destroyed and with all of the SAPA restrictions, I will not be able to build a house for myself. That’s just one example of how abusive SAPA and it’s anti everything followers are.  Almost all available land in Newton Township is being treated the same way.

Well davidk, I am not going to respond to all of the gibberish that you spewed on this website on Christmas Eve.  Show us the Supreme Court Ruling that says Clarks Summit has to zone areas for landfills, airport and everything else under the sun.  These are the types of greatly exaggerated, deceptive tactics that SAPA and anti everything people use to push their agenda, which is to abuse people’s rights and take their land.

And… DavidK, you totally evaded Susie’s question, which was essentially, is SAPA going to pay for any land takings?
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