The Rice Township Board of Supervisors unanimously denied the application of George Hayden and JKLM Investments, LLC to change the zoning classification of a property near Interstate 81 from R-1 to B-2 at a public hearing Thursday March 20. The property is owned by Pharmahouse, Inc., and is located near the intersection of the Interstate 81 Northbound ramp and State Route 2047 Church Road.
Rice Township Planning Consultant Jack Varaly said the hearing was advertised and letters notified residents living within 200 feet of the property.
The Rice Township Planning Commission had no comment regarding the property. The Luzerne County Planning Commission said that they could not offer a true evaluation of the change of zoning on the property without knowing the intended use. The letter also stated that since part of the property is on a flood plain, the owners might need special zoning from PennDOT.
Attorney Matthew Turowski spoke on behalf of Hayden and JKLM Investments. There are four separate parcels of land totaling 5.6 acres, which is currently zoned as R-1, or Residential. Turowski said that since the land is unlikely to be developed for residential use because of its close proximity to Interstate 81. Changing it to B-2 or Business 2 would give developers a large variety of options.
Turowski said that there are currently no plans for the land to be developed at this time, but that his clients were hoping to develop the property in the next 5 years. Potentially, two businesses could fit on the property.
Attorney Bill Urbanski, Rice Township resident who also was representing his brother who resides in the Township, said he “would strongly vote in opposition to the application.” He explained that his family has been living in Rice Township for 75 years. “This area is residential and agricultural. That’s why we moved here.”
Jennifer Gower expressed concern about runoff from the property if it is developed. Her home is directly in front of the property in question. She explained that her basement floods when it rains, and was concerned that a business on the property would be
See Zoning page 4