Supervisors have ignored questions
To the editor: This is an open letter to the Cleveland Township supervisors.
Gentlemen, politics is the art of postponing a decision until it is no longer relevant. After almost two years of observing and trying to interact with you, our local government body, I congratulate you. Why? Because the three of you, along with other appointed and hired enablers, are masters of avoiding questions.
In August 2011, I asked, "What are the rights of the people in the R-2 (Medium Density Residential) District?" After some hesitation and grumbling, you said that the question would be referred to your solicitor. The response was the short letter of Sept. 22, 2011, addressing your request to "define agriculture." That was most certainly not the question.
Your letter went on to say that the Cleveland Township ordinance and the state municipal planning code contained no guidance. Wrong and wrong. A simple line from the agricultural part of the ordinance was quoted describing various agricultural uses of land. Ironically, if this long-standing adviser had turned two more pages in this very same Section Five, he would have come upon the following words: "Buildings housing livestock shall be no closer than 300 feet to a residential district." Clear as a bell.
But to this day, we have never gotten one of you to even acknowledge the existence of these words. If any or all of you have read the recent decision, in our favor, made by the zoning hearing board, you will have seen that these words were included in the decision.
To give further credibility to our rights, the state constitution and the state planning code both clearly state that health, safety, welfare and density of population trump farming rights in neighborhood development. If you had not noticed, this R-2 District has long ago evolved into a neighborhood.
You have never seriously considered acting on our behalf in any decision, despite impassioned hearings and presentation of facts. The self-proclaimed research statistician of your group, any time given the chance, spews numbers and comparisons with other townships, all aimed at bolstering the attitude that I interpret as, "Sorry folks; you really have no say on your environment."
The seemingly most educated person in the room was heard to say, "You're beating a dead horse." Nice words for a room full of people fighting for their homes, environment and perhaps their lives.
The ordinance amendment we originally submitted in March, in which we simply restated our existing rights in the 4 percent of township land, has been stalled at every meeting. Most recently, instead of finally acting, you had our latest plea sent to the state attorney general for an opinion. But where is the good faith in that move, in light of the current activity at Knoebel land in R-2? The town crier of your group told us that they want to break ground in March. Where are the legal, approved permits?
When questioned at the zoning hearing by someone who lives in very close proximity to the proposed 70,000-chicken factory farm, as to how much traffic the day-to-day operation hauling chickens, manure and feed would generate - Joel Knoebel jutted his chin and said, "24/7."
With the now imminent threat to our water supply and quality of air and health, know that I'm done asking questions of any of you in that room in which you "preside." It has been futile - but there are other rooms where objectivity and fairness prevail.
Justice in Cleveland Township resides only in the dictionaries on our bookshelves.