- Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 November 2009 17:51
- Published on Wednesday, 18 November 2009 17:51
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At 9 o’clock Monday the Westmoreland County Board of Zoning Appeals will begin its deliberations on the set of questions associated with corporate soldier training establishment O’Gara’s ability to locate a facility in Westmoreland without having to be the subject of any public hearing.
The appeal filed by George J. and Susan Hoge Ripol, Mary Porter Hall and Harry and Bonnie Boyden on Sept. 18 challenges O’Gara’s ability to establish its facility on the Agricultural, A-1 land it purchased from Bryan Chandler on July 28.
Other questions concern O’Gara’s ability to utilize for its training purposes the industrial shell building and surrounding 25 acres it contracted to purchase from the county government. The shell building and property carry an IPUD, Industrial Planned Unit zoning designation.
The actual appeal document is 77 pages and includes many supporting documents, including a Sept. 17, 2008, memorandum attributed to the late Westmoreland Zoning Administrator Gary Ziegler. That memo’s contents triggered the set of actions that resulted in the O’Gara Group’s arrival in Westmoreland.
The BZA is being asked to review the current zoning administrator’s ability the initial components of the O’Gara project’s site plan when relying upon the veracity of the prior zoning administrator’s September 2008 opinion document.
A key question Monday will be whether the current zoning administrator was correct when he relied on his predecessor’s determination that the O’Gara facility should be categorized as a school that can establish itself as a matter of right on the A-1 and IPUD properties.
If the BZA finds that the current zoning administrator incorrectly relied on the predecessor’s faulty determination, was the Aug. 24, 2009, Phase 1A site plan a proper and legal action?
Can private citizens and O’Gara project neighbors be deprived of the standing to challenge the Ziegler determination when the September 2008 document failed to name O’Gara and the public had no opportunity to learn of the Ziegler document until January 2009, when the statutory appeals period had passed?
The BZA will be asked to consider on Monday morning whether a special case exists. The controlling statute has a provision that calls for a prospective appellant to be given a reasonable opportunity to know that such a zoning administrator’s opinion has been rendered.
Ziegler’s failure to name O’Gara in the opinion may be construed as providing an opportunity to appeal and even reverse that land use document.
More questions and arguments included in next week’s appeal concern instances in which Ziegler is purported to have actually contradicted himself when formulating the set of findings that would allow an establishment such as O’Gara to locate on the two properties.
The BZA will deliberate on a second and separate set of O’Gara-related questions on Monday, Dec. 28 at 9 a.m. BZA meetings are conducted in the A.T. Johnson auditorium and are open to the public.