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Village Overlay District a questionable plan


Plumstead Township’s Village Overlay District was on the agenda at the township meeting on July 13 and more than 75 neighbors attended to express opposition to moving forward on the plan. Many others who could not attend or did not want to speak in public wrote emails of opposition to the township manager.
The discussion was placed late on the agenda and the chairman attempted to discourage discussion on the topic with little success. We shared our views until midnight.
Most people urged the board to drop the proposal for the village of Plumsteadville, citing concerns about additional traffic, turning Stump Road into a commercial area, the addition of multiple apartments in the area, the wisdom of adding to the already extensive vacant commercial structures and the negative impact of our local community and culture.
But despite significant opposition, the board voted 3-2 to advance the rezoning of Plumsteadville and Stump Road by voting to hold a town hall meeting to present their ideas and try to sell it to the residents.
Pete Busillo, chairman, Ken Lichtenstein and Brian Trymbiski voted to advance the proposal. Jim McComb and Dan Hilferty voted to kill the proposal. Mr. Hilferty spoke against the Overlay District while Mr. Trymbiski was very vocal in his support of the Overlay District even going so far as to claim that the planned commercial build-out of Plumsteadville and Stump Road will somehow preserve open space elsewhere in the town.
No date was set for the town meeting. Additionally, the supervisors made it clear that the township would only communicate details on the meeting to those residents living within the overlay footprint. Fortunately, those living within that footprint will be sharing that time line and location and we will immediately share it with others.
The supervisors, when repeatedly questioned, could give no explanation on how this concept evolved, why they support it nor who (other than themselves and the township planning commission) are advocating for this significant zoning change.

The audience left frustrated that the board members did not seem to hear their extensive objections, but also energized that such a large group was universally united in opposition to the Village Overlay Concept. The board left determined to push forward with its plans but clear that it faces major organized resident opposition.
Speculation within our committee is that the town hall meeting will take place after the elections in November but, it could happen in September or the supervisors could wait another year as they did after the initial Zoom meeting last July.
You can hear the entire recorded discussion of the Overlay District on the township website. The recording is available for a month or so. You can also hear additional comments by the planning commission chairman supporting the Overlay District presented to the supervisors after the agenda item had closed and the public had left.
Our next challenge is to guarantee that we have at least 300 motivated people physically attend the town hall meeting whenever it happens. Talk to your neighbors and friends. Educate them on the negative impact of this rezoning to their community, their commute to anywhere and local tranquility.
Sign up for email list at Stay vigilant and know you are among a large (and growing) group of neighbors who oppose the redesign of our quiet community.
Don Mikes is a Plumstead Township resident.