While maintaining protection of its woodlands as part of its commitment to preserving its rural character, Richland Township is moving toward revising the forestry regulations in its zoning ordinance to assure that property owners have a right to conduct timber harvesting, just as they do with farming.
The action was taken at the Jan. 6 public board of supervisors meeting as approval to advertise a proposed ordinance change that also includes revising the definition of minor subdivisions, and removing minimum open space ratios for them.
Supervisor Chair Tim Arnold explained that the forestry move was proactive, in response to news of municipal forestry regulations elsewhere being successfully appealed to state authorities. The purpose of the revised forestry regulations is noted as “promoting good forest stewardship; protecting the rights of adjoining property owners; minimizing the potential for adverse environmental impacts; and avoiding unreasonable and unnecessary restrictions on the right to practice forestry.”
It further notes that “forestry activities, including timber harvesting, shall be a permitted use by right in all zoning districts,” and that the detailed regulations “apply to all timber harvesting within the township where the value of the trees, logs, or other timber products removed exceeds $1,000.” Excluded are the “cutting of trees for the personal use by the landowner or for pre-commercial timber stand improvement.”
Requirements are noted for comprehensive logging plans, including compliance with state laws, such as those regulating erosion and sedimentation control, and stream crossing and wetlands protection. In addition, actual harvesting operations are noted in detail as restricted in terms of their impact on adjoining properties and public roadways.
Before the annual reorganization meeting that preceded the regular January meeting, Kathleen Doyle was sworn in as a new supervisor by District Magistrate Lisa Gaier. Doyle, who won a contested election last November, takes the seat vacated by Rick Orloff, who did not seek reelection after serving four six-year terms. The township still has three supervisors, with voters declining a couple of years ago on a proposal to increase to five.
During the reorganization meeting, supervisors approved the appointment of Jeff McGalliard to serve the remaining year in Doyle’s term on the township’s planning commission, and reappointed Chris Fennell and Matt Walsh to new three-year terms there.
Among other appointments, supervisors approved Gary Yakub to the remaining year in the term of the late Zane Stauffer on the board of the Richland Township Water Authority. Yakub was noted as having extensive experience in the water and wastewater treatment industries.