Industrial Development Approved in Hazle Township

HAZLE TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A decision by township supervisors to allow for industrial development in one part of our area isn't sitting well for people who call the area home.

On Friday, Hazle Township supervisors decided to make the area surrounding the village of Harwood an industrial zone. The decision paves the way for industrial warehouses in an abandoned mine area that's been reclaimed by nature.

Despite many meetings with supervisors, residents tell us they don't understand why the township would vote against their wishes.

"I wasn't really surprised," said resident Paul Matulevich. "The rumor had it that this was pretty much a done deal before the public knew about it."

Matulevich says it was a losing battle when he and other residents tried to fight a proposal to rezone the land around their neighborhood in Hazle Township from nature-filled abandoned coal mines to industrial zones.

"Well, you know, I guess upping the offer of the buffer zone kind of helped them out with that," said resident John Petrill.

People who live in Harwood tell Newswatch 16 the initial proposal from developers included a 150-foot buffer between the homes and the industrial park. Now those residents tell us they believe the zoning has changed because that buffer zone has increased to 250 feet.

"150 feet is the distance between home plate and second base. I could spit that far. You know, it's better when you're a beggar you can take anything you can get," Matulevich said.

Despite many meetings with the township, people in Harwood say they don't understand why the zoning change was approved.

"Why did they think it was a good idea for the citizens of Hazle Township?" Matulevich asked.

Township supervisors were not available to speak with Newswatch 16.

Residents in the area hope their quality of life next door will be considered in any plans for development.

"We've had issues with a horrible dog food plant up in Humboldt that you can smell far away. Communities away, you can smell," Petrill said.

"I'm not against progress, but all change is not necessarily progress," Matulevich added.

People in the Hazle Township zoning office tell us that the old mines in that rezoned area will need to be filled in and then sit for at least five years before development can take place.

They're estimating about 10 years before those people in Hazle Township would see the building of any warehouses.

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