Moore Township Board Of Supervisors Discuss Cell Towers And Medical Marijuana Ordinances

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Moore Township Solicitor David Backenstoe took some time during the April 4 Board of Supervisors meeting to outline three new ordinances the township is working on approving.

The first ordinance is a medical marijuana ordinance. Because medical marijuana has been made legal in Pennsylvania, state law requires that each municipality have uses for academic clinical research centers, dispensaries, grower and processor areas, and delivery vehicle offices.

Backenstoe understands that medical marijuana is something that some residents may be wary about, but he stressed that the system is highly regulated and controlled. He worked alongside the planning commission to establish uses for the different requirements. After much planning and discussion, he believes that the commission came up with a proposal, which he calls “nicely done,” and one that will “protect the township as much as it can.”

Conditional uses will be placed on the different areas, meaning that anyone who wants to build an academic clinical research center or a grower and processor plant must not only meet the State’s and Department of Health’s requirements, but must also stand before the Board of Supervisors and prove they meet the stringent criteria.

“[There will be] a host of things they have to comply with,” he told residents.

The Board of Supervisors approved Backenstoe’s request to finalize the ordinance and advertise it so that it can be adopted as soon as possible.

“I do not think it is going to be that prolific,” the solicitor said, “[but] Moore Township needs to be ready.”

The final two ordinances Backenstoe introduced to the board revolved around the use of cell towers in the township. Wireless commercial communication facilities around the nation have tried to define themselves as public utilities, which will exempt them from following zoning laws and instead allow them to put cellular towers in right of ways. The issue is currently in the court, but Backenstoe believes that the township should act now before any decision is made to “protect our residents as best we can.”

The first ordinance, which the board unanimously approved to advertise, states that wireless commercial communication facilities are not public utilities, not exempt from zoning laws, and must follow the right of way ordinance.

The second ordinance is more detailed and is still several weeks away from being finalized. It will make cell towers conditional uses in all areas, but prohibit them from right of ways in residential districts in which utilities are underground. Cell towers out of right of ways will be limited to 120 feet tall and cell towers within right of ways will be limited to 40 feet tall, which is the height of a standard telephone pole. In addition, a cell tower can be no closer to a building than three times its height. Finally, the wireless commercial communication facilities must prove that there will be a gap in coverage without the cell tower.

However, cell towers on existing structures will be permitted. All of the detailed regulations are the township’s way of persuading companies to co-locate and build towers on existing structures instead of in right of ways.

Supervisors said that applications are already coming into the township for cell towers, so they wish to move this ordinance along quickly.

Other business in the monthly Board of Supervisors meeting included the monthly police report (320 incidents), the monthly fire report (41 calls and 285 man hours), and the monthly ambulance report (76 calls and 304 hours). The fire report, presented by Klecknersville Rangers Volunteer Fire Company Fire Recorder Jason Harhart, listed nine fires, three motor vehicle accidents, one fire police incident, two automatic fire alarms, nine ambulance assists, three mutual aid calls, three calls for downed trees, one call for downed wires, three carbon monoxide alarms, one odor investigation, and six controlled burns.

Finally, the PennDOT presentation on two bridges in the area was postponed until the board’s next monthly meeting. That meeting will be held on May 2 at 7 p.m. Residents are encouraged to attend.

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