Last evening we finally made a presentation before the South Middleton Township Planning Commission regarding our Land Development plans that were submitted last November. After being tabled for 4 straight months because comment letters had not yet been received from all government entities that must review such plans, we appeared at the planning commission meeting last night only to learn that they intended to table us once again because the PA Department of Environmental Protection had only just sent in their comments late last week. Fortunately the township engineer came to our aid stating that we were in attendance and prepared to speak, and we were allowed to do so.
The good news is that there were very few questions or comments following our presentation. We did not receive their approval of our plans, nor did we expect to, because its clear that township policy requires all review comments from all entities must be received, resolved, and ancillary permits issued, before they will take action on a land development plan. While most municipalities in our experience WILL preliminarily approve land development plans (as the Borough of Carlisle has already done with ours several months ago) in advance of all other reviews and permits being issued (with the caveat that such permits must be issued prior to their final approval), South Middleton Township will not.
So we consider this some forward progress at least. Our civil engineer is drafting our response to PADEP and scheduling meetings with both Cumberland County and PADEP to resolve their storm water management comments before we resubmit the plans one more time. We’ve been going back and forth with township staff in a similar fashion in the past few months resolving their internal comments as well, such that we hope our next round of submissions will lead to a final approval (provided the state issues our storm water NPDES permit in a timely fashion). Following the South Middleton Planning Commission approval we then have one final step to take which is going before the South Middleton Township Supervisors for their approval. After that is received, our Land Development plans can be signed by all entities and recorded with the County.
In the meantime, we’ve requested that the Borough of Carlisle issue us a building permit to proceed with the construction of East Baltimore Street (entirely within the Borough) as a first phase of our construction this spring to get that portion of the work completed while we wait for South Middleton and PADEP approvals and permits. However, there is reluctance on the part of the Borough Engineer to do so because the plans have not yet been recorded with all approvals (they must be signed by both Borough and South Middleton officials since our Spring Garden campus falls in two municipalities).
With that said, we otherwise continue to work towards a late summer start of construction for the site work shown on our land development plans. Also note that we must still submit all our plans for the building itself when completed for review and approval by South Middleton and the PA Department of Labor & Industry before our final building permit is issued. We intend to submit those building plans to these entities following our May 13 congregational vote, pending of course a positive outcome of that vote.
So this ‘permitting journey’ that we’ve been on since last November has a ways to go yet. And while it sometimes feels that we’ve been wandering in the wilderness for what can seem like 40 years along the way, be reminded that God is in control and our Risen Christ is leading our steps!! Thanks be to God!!