‘Township not being open and honest with residents,’ Lower Paxton hears construction concerns

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Damage from construction, noise vibrations, doubts about transparency, and questions about whether Lower Paxton Township went through the right channels arose at Monday night’s township meeting.

Township supervisors were greeted by a full room, with several people lined up to speak about a project on Locust Lane, near Pine Hollow Road. The project involves the construction of a new district judge’s office and the expansion of a township building.

Neighbors say they found out about the project when the construction equipment arrived on site and woke them up before 6:30 a.m. Several told the township supervisors about damage to their properties and noise vibrations shaking their homes.

One woman played a recording of the sound. It was so loud, it was difficult to hear her speak, even though she was using a microphone.

“It appears the township is not being open and honest with the residents,” one speaker said, telling the supervisors he has been trying to get answers about the project.

Several neighbors also asked questions about the zoning for the new district judge office. They told the supervisors they discovered it is zoned as residential. Neighbors had paperwork showing local ordinances specify that government property may be built on this type of land if there is a special hearing to get an exception.

Township supervisors admitted no such hearing was held.

They did say the township solicitor, who was not at the meeting, looked into the matter and made sure everything was done correctly. The supervisors said they would check with the solicitor again to ensure nothing was missed.

“I never in this world thought there would be any problems with this,” supervisor William Seeds said about the construction project. “In retrospect, we should have had a community meeting. I apologize personally because we didn’t foresee any kind of problem.”

“But where do we go from here?” Seeds asked.

Neighbors say they would like the construction to stop until further studies are done about the effects the project will have on the community. Several speakers mentioned concerns about increased traffic flow, and the possibility a district judge’s office would bring more criminals through the area.

Township manager George Wolfe said there will be a “vibrations study” within the next few weeks, but the supervisors said they didn’t know if they could stop the project until that happens. They also said there is a possibility neighbors would need a legal injunction to stop the construction.

Several times, the supervisors asked speakers at the meeting to submit questions in writing if they wanted answers. Multiple people in the crowd said they already did; one woman brought the emails and the right-to-know request she filed (it was denied).

ABC 27 is staying on the story and will continue providing updates on the air and online.

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