An application error forced the delay of a conditional use permit request for at least one month.
At last Tuesday’s meeting, the Franklin County Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously voted to table a request from Jacqueline and Nathaniel Phillips for a haunted hayride in Catawissa. The decision came after the board realized the application excluded an area the Phillipses were planning to use for parking.
The CUP request was for a special event, occasional, in the community development zoning district. The property is located at Wild Plum Valley and Highway N.
The application said it was for four parcels on the 67-acre site. However, after already discussing the issue for nearly an hour, the board realized parking would be a problem.
After Jacqueline Phillips pointed out on a map where parking was supposed to be, Planning Director Scottie Eagan said that parcel was not included on the CUP.
Already concerned about the parking, the board opted to table the Phillips’ request. Eagan said she would work with them to make sure the application was fixed before the Oct. 17 meeting.
Fortunately for the Phillips’ the delay won’t really impact their plans in the near future.
Jacqueline Phillips said the family has 67 acres and already hosts events. She said they wanted a special permit to hold events every weekend in October.
Phillips said she envisioned something like a pumpkin patch with a nightly “haunted hayride” around the property. She said it was probably too late to do it this year, but envisioned it as an annual thing every October starting in 2018.
She initially said she was thinking of having the property only open from 8 p.m. to midnight, but later decided to make it more of an all-day thing.
The plan board had concerns over security and parking — both predicated on Phillips’ expectations for the events. Phillips said the property was 67 acres and could handle about 3,000 people.
The board wanted to make sure the site had enough of a security presence in case 3,000 people did show up. The board debated if it should require a certain number of guards per 500 people, or just a blanket number of guards at all times.
The board also was unsure about where all the cars would park. Commissioner Bill McLaren recused himself from the hearing because he owns property next to the site. During the public hearing, however, he spoke to express some concerns.
McLaren said at a previous event run by the Phillipses, visitors parked off site and along the side of the road. The board wanted to ensure the site had ample room to handle all the parking, and that was when the application error was discovered.
Before it could reach a consensus on security, parking and any other conditions, the board realized Phillipses plans did not match her application and decided any vote should be delayed.
Eagan said the parking parcel would be added to the application and new public hearing notices would be sent out before the October meeting. She told Jacqueline Phillips she wouldn’t have to pay to refile the application.