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Friday, October 25, 2013

the letter to the editor in support of the YMCA expansion

I read the letter to the editor in the Echo this week and pondered how hard it is to explain that a rejection of the zoning amendment - which impacts all of Ligonier Borough, not just YMCA property - is not a rejection of the YMCA expansion.

As I understand it the YMCA has NOT presented its expansion plan to the Ligonier Borough Planning Commission.  This is what Atty. Flickinger objected to at the public hearing.  The YMCA wants Ligonier Borough to amend their zoning ordinance before they even seek approval from the planners for their planned expansion.

I have no idea why the Ligonier YMCA has proceeded with all of their land purchases and raising of funds and razing of buildings without obtaining legal approval from Ligonier Borough.  Perhaps they though it was all a slam dunk.  Now that their actual plans are in motion - without approval - they are indignant and don't understand why anyone would stand in their way.

This is not about holding back the expansion of the YMCA. This is about doing it in a way that does not harm Ligonier Borough.

Ligonier Borough wisely spent some money to hire consultants who helped them create a new zoning law in 2010.  There was much discussion about preserving a residential pedestrian village. If Ligonier Borough caves to the YMCA push for this amendment - which is at odds with the conclusions of the hard work of the consultants and the planning commission - then Ligonier Borough ought not to EVER spend money planning again because they send the message that anyone with the WILL and MONEY or ABILITY to sue can force whatever they want in this borough.

To the letter writer:  The point isn't that some people are okay living next to a parking lot.  The point is that Ligonier Borough has so little land that it must protect itself against the paving and creation of additional parking lots!

The point isn't that a whole bunch of people love the YMCA and Ligonier Borough is spoiling the expansion party. The point is that the YMCA is expanding in a very tiny municipality that wants to control its future in a responsible manner for the good of the community. Threatening legal action might be a legitimate tactic as we can see that the borough is afraid of a lawsuit, but is it a tactic that fits with the mission of a charitable institution who decided to skip all of the usual approval methods and steps that you and I and any other person seeking planning approval would have had to perform?