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Thank you, Indian Land residents, for your outpouring of support in our effort to have Thomas Concrete held to the letter of the law in Lancaster County. Your efforts forced their lawyers to alter their strategy and postpone the appeal date of Sept. 15 to Oct. 11 or possibly a circuit court hearing. Lancaster County owes an apology to those who did not get the change of date notice in advance of their trip to Lancaster.
However, the attempt to malign your courage by Kevin Sexton’s letter to the editor demands a response. As Sexton has been the owner of Classic Architectural Concept Stone in the light industrial park since 1999, his recollection of events is odd.
The neighborhood of Lakeview Landing was fully developed and inhabited years prior to the land of the light industrial park being zoned from agricultural to light industrial. Many of us are a half mile or greater from the concrete plants and don’t need to be adjacent in order to be awakened at 3 a.m.
Mr. Sexton’s desire for consistency in government rules is admirable. Likewise, when the industrial park was created, light industrial zoning did not allow batch concrete manufacturing. Again, it was built after Lakeview Landing.
Lancaster County later passed an ordinance that allowed the industrial classification, in which batch concrete manufacturing resides, to exist in light industrial zoning. The county “accidentally” posted the zoning notice in the York paper and, miraculously, there was no opposition. Soon after, McLeod Concrete showed up.
After all four plants had begun operations, the county realized the jeopardy they had put other citizens throughout the county in who live near light industrial zoning. To protect its citizens, the county then passed an ordinance for non-allowance of batch concrete plants in light industrial. This did not remove existing operations. It only prevented future occurrences.
When the light industrial park was created, when McLeod was built, when the other concrete plants arrived, Lancaster County had and still has a Unified Development Ordinance. This UDO contains ordinances around noise, nuisance, glare, vibration and pollutants.
All parties were aware of these before they built. No party is exempt. These rules have remained consistent. When families moved into Brookchase, they rightfully had every expectation that these ordinances would be adhered to and enforced.
Imagine you move into a house only to discover the neighbor’s garage band practices nightly at 3 a.m. Regardless of the neighbors with the band being there first, you would expect the authorities to enforce the noise ordinance.
When Thomas Concrete bought McLeod, Thomas knew the property was adjacent to the homes of Brookchase. These homes existed prior to Thomas buying the property. When any of the plants opened in the light industrial park, they had access to the UDO, as did Thomas when they bought McLeod. The non-compliant use clause that references the 180 days of nonoperation putting an end to further operations has always been present in the UDO.
Mr. Sexton says we need to co-exist. When our children can get a good night’s sleep and perform well in school, when we regain the value lost in our homes due to the concrete plants’ presence, when we can live in peace, we can co-exist. How does our sleeping cause harm to any business? It’s easy for the oppressor to tell the oppressed to stop complaining and learn to co-exist.
Mr. Sexton’s concerns about Lancaster County’s appeal to business should be mitigated by his knowledge that there is no business permit requirement in this county. This makes it very difficult for the county to force compliance of any ordinance upon a business. This is why the concrete plants came here and remain today.
If, as Mr. Sexton says, “the county council will change the rules...because they do not want to listen to complaining citizen groups,” then this issue would have been resolved five years ago. I wish he was right and our children could sleep tonight.
To quote Mr. Sexton, “How do I know this, you ask?” I got my facts right before I wrote a letter to the paper.
Scott Bruntmyer is a member of Friends of Indian Land (FOIL).