In case you missed it, this past Sunday, August 30th, the Editorial Board of the Times Tribune weighed in and agreed with the last week’s vote of the Jessup Borough Council. Writing that the Council exhibited “admirable judgement,” the paper’s editorial board agreed that Jessup’s current code is exclusionary and there is “substantial justification” for developing the project at the proposed site.
Jessup Borough Council last week exercised admirable judgment by acknowledging a flaw in the town’s restrictive zoning ordinance.
Council voted 6-1 on Wednesday to confirm that the borough’s zoning regulation is deficient by excluding power plants. Council acted after Invenergy LLC, a Chicago energy company that wants to construct a 1,500-megawatt gas-fired power plant near the Casey Highway in Jessup, challenged the zoning ordinance’s restrictions. Council is scheduled to act on a cure for the defect at its Sept. 11 meeting.
The zoning dispute centered on existing height restrictions, setback requirements and other conditions that would preclude construction of a power plant anywhere in the borough. A 2,000-foot- setback from a residential zone, for example, restricts usage at the 44-acre site where Invenergy wants to locate the power plant.
In April, the Lackawanna County Regional Planning Commission declared the borough’s zoning code exclusionary because it would prohibit a power plant. So, council members conformed with their duty to borough residents and the law by recognizing the prejudicial and damaging nature of the existing zoning limits. If council had refused to admit the zoning flaw and avoided corrective action, Invenergy would have prevailed in court, anyway.
Controversy over the power plant proposal has stirred emotionally charged local opposition. Concerns about its environmental impact and effect on property values are justified. But the proposed plant’s close vicinity to natural gas distribution lines and a high-power electric line provide substantial justification for the location. The recent action by Jessup’s council members affirms their recognition of the reality.