Santa’s coming to Honesdale

HONESDALE, PA — In barely 35 minutes at its November 6 meeting, the Honesdale Borough Council named a fair-housing officer, drafted its newest members to review and revamp the borough’s current zoning ordinance and cleared the way for the man in red’s annual visit to Honesdale.

By unanimous vote (minus absent Troy Johnson), the council appointed secretary-manager Judy Poltanis as the borough’s fair-housing officer. The primary responsibility of the fair-housing officer is administration of community-development block grants.

The council quickly moved on to very old business, now newly relevant. Councilman Chris Murray said the council has long recognized a need for review and revision of the borough’s comprehensive zoning ordinance. To that end, a consulting firm specializing in municipal zoning was hired some years ago to review the borough’s code and make recommendations for its updating. However, before the resulting recommendations could be implemented by the borough’s planning commission, the proposed ordinance was subject to county planning commission review and approval. The county planning commission found many of the consulting firm’s recommendations inappropriate for Honesdale at that time. And the project died.

Council president Mike Augello asked the two newest council members, Tim Lauffenburger and James Jennings, to commit to a fresh review of the zoning ordinance. With a nod to Jennings, who said during his nomination speech that he was anxious to apply his community development knowledge and skills to his hometown, Augello said, “The zoning ordinance is a living document. Times change, and zoning laws have to keep upwith them.”

Borough solicitor Richard Henry advised the two men to disregard most, if not all, of the consultant’s recommendations and to focus instead on changing those aspects of the current ordinance no longer in conformance with current state, county and borough law. In particular, Henry suggested scrutinizing distinctions between special-exception and conditional-use application criteria.

Winding up for adjournment, Augello said the borough’s preliminary 2018 annual budget is available for public viewing at borough hall from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday until November 9, and will then be reviewed again publicly at the council’s next scheduled meeting on November 20.

The most important order of business was approval of the annual Santa Parade on November 24 at 6 p.m., followed by lighting of the borough Christmas tree. (Rain/snow date is November 25.) The Greater Honesdale Partnership is again sponsoring these holiday festivities.

 

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