Petersburg Pilot -

Battle over Borough land sale continues in meeting

 


The Planning and Zoning Commission spent a significant amount of time at their Oct. 25 meeting on the issue of the Borough’s proposed land sale of Lot 10 in the 900 block of Sandy Beach Road. Votes to vacate a portion of a public easement on the property and to rezone it from public use to single-family residential both failed, largely because several on the commission had concerns about the sale itself which has drawn criticism from many local residents.

Though the land sale has already been approved by the Assembly, commissioner Dave Kensinger opposed both motions as a means to buy time and address public concerns.

“I’d like to see this whole process start over from the beginning,” he said. “So by voting against rezoning it and voting against the easement, I think this will get us, the commission, and the assembly a little bit more time to figure out a solution that’s going to be a little bit better for all the parties involved.”

Some have petitioned the Borough to keep the land public rather than sell it, arguing a nearby fish trap and the petroglyphs on the Sandy Beach tide flats are historically and culturally important and should be thusly protected. At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners heard from another subset of concerned residents regarding the sale: adjacent property owners Kris Norosz and Tim and Polly Koeneman. Each party has filed an application to purchase part of the borough-owned property which abuts their respective parcels.

Norosz, who’s owned her lot since 1979 when she purchased it from the State, said she would maintain any land purchased from the borough as a buffer for privacy.

“It’s not my intention to build anything on it,” she said. “What’s made it [her lot] special to me is that there’s lots of big trees around, that there’s a sense of privacy.”

Tim Koeneman, who’s owned his property there for 44 years, echoed Norosz’s sentiments and said he’d only make minimal changes to any land purchased from the Borough.

“It will allow me to take down some of the trees, which I now find branches in my yard during wind storms that the city doesn’t want to deal with,” he said, adding his preference was “that the city would rezone it as green zone and just leave it there undeveloped.”

Commissioners were juggling several considerations during the meeting: the public comments from Norosz and Koeneman and two applications from the Petersburg Borough. In the end the commissioners voted in favor of two recommendations for the Assembly.

“I think we should make a general recommendation to the Borough Assembly that they should consider the two adjacent property owners’ purchase request but they also should consider the community’s request to keep this property as public use and not sell it at all,” explained Chris Fry, the commission chair. The commission agreed unanimously.

The Petersburg Borough Assembly approved the land sale, including Lot 10 and two other parcels, by resolution at a meeting on June 20. Lot 10 is the highest assessed property of the three with a minimum bid established at $182,000. If all three parcels up for sale sold at the minimum bid, the proceeds would amount to $290,500. Proceeds from the sale are earmarked for the municipal building renovation currently underway

Planning and Zoning will meet again at 4:30 pm on Tuesday, Nov. 22, and the Borough Assembly meets again Nov. 7 at noon.

 

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