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Lehigh Township considering expansion of zoning board, ability to remove residents’ trees, plants

Lehigh Township wants to increase the number of people on its Zoning Hearing Board.Township Solicitor David Backenstoe told the township supervisors on Tuesday that they can grow their three-member board to as many as five.The board voted 4-0 in favor of advertising an ordinance for adoption that would allow for more zoning members, and will vote on it during its 7 p.m. meeting July 9.Backenstoe said he prepared a draft ordinance that allows for members to continue to be appointed for five-year terms, but each would be staggered in order to have at least one seat turn over every year.“It might take a year or two to mesh that in,” he said.He said state law permits as many as five members on a zoning board as long as the township’s ordinance provides for it.Supervisor Cindy Miller said increasing development within the township warrants a larger zoning board.“We’re seeing more and more plans coming through, we want more voices at the table,” she said.In other business, the board directed Backenstoe to prepare an ordinance allowing the township to remove trees and brush planted by residents in the public right of way.Backenstoe, who also serves as solicitor in Plainfield Township, said he could adapt an ordinance in that township that enables the removal of plantings to fit Lehigh’s needs.The ordinance, as in Plainfield Township, would also provide for billing the resident for the work.If enacted, the ordinance would allow for the removal of shrubs or trees planted in the right of way that the township deemed an obstruction to motorists. Such a determination would have to be warranted by a traffic study, he said.The township would also have the ability to bill a resident for the removal of a tree planted on private property that falls and lands in the right of way.The township would have to first submit a written request to the adjacent landowner for permission to remove trees in excess of 6 inches in diameter planted in the right of way, Backenstoe said.Kevin Duffy is a freelance writer for The Morning Call.
Source: Morningcall

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