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.
THE ABINGTION JOURNAL
January 6, 2010
SAPA plan stirs debate
By Gerard Hetman
As the comprehensive plan crafted by the Scranton-Abingtons Planning Association is adopted by more municipalities, not all local residents have joined the rush to approve the revolutionary change in local zoning.
Newton Township resident Sal Pileggi, a landowner and community activist, has been a vocal critic of the SAPA agreement. He claims that changes made to longtime zoning policies under the new plan will devalue much of the property in Newton and other surrounding communities, leading to potential financial hardships for property owners. Referring to the implementation of the plan as a “regulatory taking of land” in the adopting communities, Pileggi has waged a campaign urging legislators and citizens alike to reconsider the issue on his web site, http://www.newtonpa.com.
“What can a farmer do if he has all this land, can’t farm it, and needs to sell it to maintain his livelihood?” Pileggi recently said of the plan. “If you devalue land owned by people for generations, what is left for them to use in financial dealings and things like that?”
After several years of debate, discussion, and development, the SAPA plan has now been adopted by nine of the 11 member communities in the plan. This includes the Townships of Abington, Glenburn, Newton, South Abington and West Abington; and the Boroughs of Clarks Summit, Clarks Green, Dunmore and Dalton. As of this writing, only the City of Scranton and the Borough of North Abington Township have yet to approve the plan.
Using his web site, Pileggi has been organizing residents of the communities involved in SAPA to voice their oppositions to what he sees as unnecessary and harmful changes to existing zoning laws that he believes are modified under the SAPA legislation. He claims that the intent of the SAPA plan is to stop land currently used for farming to be sold or developed for any other use in the future, therefore limiting the value of such property.
In response to Pileggi’s concerns, Denise Prowell, the secretary for the SAPA plan, said that the plan is “a general policy guide and an ideal for the future - it is not zoning.” Prowell said that chapter four of the SAPA plan contains recommendations for zoning tools and techniques that the leaders of each involved community can use in order to suit the best interests of their own municipalities. “The planning dept. at DCED (the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development) has worked closely with SAPA and all- or at least the vast majority of- multi-municipal planning groups in the state, during their planning and implementation processes, to help if the group members have questions, and to give info about the process,” Prowell said of the legal process. Prowell also urged residents of the communities involved in SAPA to review the plan in full on the group’s web site, which is available at http://www.sapaplan.com.