HAMILTON TOWNSHIP -- A church's request to turn the Pocono Dome in Monroe County into a retreat is drawing so much public outcry, a hearing on that proposal had to be rescheduled due to the heavy turnout.
The Hamilton Township Zoning Board is moving that hearing to a larger building to accommodate the crowd.
Tuesday's public hearing on the controversial zoning request ended before it started. The Hamilton Township Zoning Board immediately postponed the hearing after so many people showed up that some were stuck outside.
“You know, people are going to turn out for something like this,” said one resident.
Now, that hearing will be held in a larger building so more people can attend.
“Given the amount of interest in the case to seek a venue that affords more persons in the township to attend,” said Karl Dickl, the zoning board chairperson.
“My impression is that they're accommodating people that want to be heard, and I think that that's a good thing,” said resident Kim Kryman.
Concerns were raised after a Korean-based church called World Mission Society Church of God asked the zoning board to issue a special permit so the church can convert the Pocono Dome near Sciota into a retreat for it members.
The dome, now owned by Wayne Bank, was used as an indoor sports complex in the past.
Neighbors say they don't want this retreat and packed into the hearing to voice their outcry to officials.
Now, they expect to have a chance to do so at the rescheduled hearing.
“There's really no benefit to the community at all. We lose the tax base. The area is already congested,” said resident Frank Calafiore. “And now they talk about a church that has thousands of members and that's going to be a retreat. It will just overwhelm the area.”
“A lot of traffic, plus if it's a church, that's tax exempt, so who pays for all the road repairs with all the impact to the community, so we're extremely concerned,” said resident Mary Eaton.
“We're also concerned about the water, the sewage. We don't know how many people are going to be there at one time. Is it going to be a weekly thing, monthly, yearly, daily?” said Kenneth Holley.
The new public hearing on the church's application for a special zoning permit will be on May 9 at 4:30 p.m. at the Monroe County Public Safety Center near Snydersville.