A judge in Monroe County reversed a decision by Smithfield Township regulators that would have allowed the construction of a 50-bed inpatient drug and alcohol rehab center in the former Water Gap Country Club.
The plan to convert the clubhouse into rehab has been widely criticized by neighbors who have raised concerns about the values of their homes and security issues, including at six public hearings.
The proposed rehab is in a dormitory zone, according to Judge Arthur Zulick, and there is no zone in which such a facility is listed as permitted use.
The community zoning officer, KA Wolfe, came to the same conclusion and recommended that regulators decide where rehabilitation centers should be located in Smithfield.
After the six public hearings, the supervisory authorities unanimously decided in August last year that the R-1 residential zone, in which the clubhouse is located, was the appropriate zone for drug and alcohol rehab -Center and granted the golf course rehab a conditional use, subject to compliance with the conditional use provisions of the municipal ordinance.
Zulick examined the case. A 20-page statement and order states that it is on an unusual basis because, although this is a land use complaint, the Smithfield Supervisors' decision in interpreting the ordinance on the Concerning zoning of the municipality, the municipality has treated the hearings and decisions of the supervisory authorities as controlled by the "local authority law".
"The community overlooks the fact that the community planning code must be the source of regulators." Legislative power to act on this zoning issue, "Zulick wrote, adding," The community openly recognizes that regulators were not authorized to make this MPC land use decision. "
Zulick added:" The regulators could have followed change procedures to remedy the deficiency of the regulation. "
Zulick continued:" The regulators have not formally changed the regulation and theirs Powers granted under the MPC were not used to decide a Conditional Use … The important question here is whether the supervisory action was generally applicable to the residents of the community or whether their decision only affected the property of Water Gap. "
The decision of the supervisory authorities was appealed in November 12, 2019, by John Shoemaker, William Buzzard, Terrence Fagan, Maryann Fagan, Neferetiti Campbell, Tony Ganci, Valerie Ganci, Joseph Iudicello, Marshall Anders, Patricia Anders, Bradley Rinschler, Terry Lynn Tell, and Richard Oshrin.
Zulick said he reversed the regulatory decision because "they were not responsible for making this decision without changing the zoning regulation."