Neighbors: Lower Paxton Township violated its own ordinance

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Neighbors showed ABC 27 disruption they’re facing from construction on Locust Lane in Lower Paxton Township Tuesday after a heated township meeting the night before.

The project has three parts: the expansion of the township’s public works facility, construction of a new district judge’s office, and the consolidation of two ball fields.

Neighbors say they found out about the project the morning it started.

“The windows were shaking, the doors were shaking,” Karen Hare said, describing vibrations from the construction. “It was so loud I thought they had a jackhammer in my garage.”

“My property line used to have a whole background of trees, and as you can see they’re all gone,” Hare added, pointing to the now-open space. “I have a beautiful view of a mound of dirt.”

Hare isn’t the only one. Several neighbors packed Monday night’s township meeting to voice concerns about the project. They told the supervisors they discovered the land 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.

“If a developer wanted to do something like this, they’d have to jump through all kinds of hoops,” Tim Murphy said as neighbors gathered to talk to ABC 27 on Tuesday. Murphy lives near the project.

“The township went behind our backs and just started construction,” he added.

The supervisors said 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.

Neighbors also expressed concerns about damage to their properties: cracked floors, nails popping out of place, and drywall issues.

“I never in this world thought there would be any problems with this,” supervisor William Seeds said of 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.

When ABC 27 called Wolfe on Tuesday, he said he couldn’t say anything because township supervisors were putting together a response to neighbors’ concerns. A spokesperson for the county is checking with the solicitor to get more information.

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