After an intense, hour-long public airing of public comment December 1 on Brian Bobeck’s request to rezone his land on North Mountain Boulevard, with residents passionately voicing their concerns and opposition, the Fairview Township Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to deny the rezone.
The main concern of neighbors was that Bobeck would allow a cellular tower to be built on the land, a move only possible with rezone approval. Verizon had been soliciting others who own nearby land for the same reason and, although Bobeck denied it was his intention to lease the land to Verizon, when pressed by Supervisor Robert Orloski, Bobeck admitted he would entertain the idea.
“We as a community can control how nice our community is,” neighboring developer Matt McGowan told the board. “I don’t want a cell tower in my backyard. It’s wrong and it’s all for profit.”
Bobeck, a developer from BDMK Holdings who owns property at 44 N. Mountain Boulevard, was granted the rezone in June, changing his less than two acres from medium high density residential to highway commercial. Fairview supervisors then rescinded this approval, however, after being informed that not all neighboring property owners were notified of the rezone request and therefore not given a chance to speak at Bobeck’s public hearing.
At the Dec. 1 hearing, Bobeck expressed his irritation at having to present his request again. He then told supervisors that he wants to put a garage on the property with an addition to be used for retail storage.
“We’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars cleaning up the property,” Bobeck said. “It is our plan to continue to develop the property….I’ve invested over $1 million of my own money because I want to better the township...and bring in jobs here.”
A handful of residents were then given the chance to question Bobeck about his plans. McGowan, developer of Sherwood Estates, thanked Bobeck for his business investments on the mountain but told him that he and residents of Sherwood are concerned about a cell tower being built on the land.
While it’s not his intention to put a cell tower in, Bobeck said, Verizon has contacted him about it. He used to work in the cell tower development business, Bobeck said and told the group that, one way or another, Verizon will build here.
Attorney Lawrence Kansky, who owns 12 acres behind Bobeck’s property, then began to question Bobeck about his intentions as if he were on the witness stand. He insinuated that Bobeck was lying when asked about cutting trees on the land and about his disclosure of wetlands, reminding him more than once that he was under oath. At one point, Bobeck asked, “Am I on trial here?”
After more questioning, Bobeck laughed at something Kansky said and the two men began a heated exchange with Kansky coming towards Bobeck. Board Chairman Russ Marhold banged his gavel several times to gain control.
Bobeck asked the supervisors what the relevance is in these neighbors questioning him. “It’s relevant to show the characteristics of the property,” township attorney Donald Karpowich replied.
“You’re affecting our people,” McGowan told Bobeck. “I’d like to know what’s going to happen behind my property.”
Later, in conclusion of the hearing, McGowan told the board, “The more