Len Sandbek called Monday's public hearing with the York Township Board of Commissioners a "waste of time."
During the hearing, Sandbek and close to two dozen residents spoke against the township's proposal to make changes to its zoning ordinance, designed to make the township more attractive to developers in order to broaden the tax base.
Residents said zoning changes would lead to traffic congestion and too much development of businesses and unneeded houses. Several residents said farmers and homeowners did not know that parts of their properties were being rezoned from residential to commercial until shortly before the hearing.
After hearing 90 minutes of comments, the commissioners voted 3-1 to adopt new zoning and subdivision and land development ordinances and zoning and official maps.
"So what was the point of having the hearing if they're not going to listen to us," Sandbek said after the hearing. "I don't think they heard anybody. But we're not just going to say OK about this. We pay these guys' salaries. We have a democratic process. We can get them all out."
The township's zoning was undergoing its first overhaul since 1996. Zoning ordinance changes include adding mixed residential-commercial areas and changing commercial/shopping and heavy and highway commercial areas to commercial shopping, commercial office and commercial industrial zones.
Other zoning areas are industrial, residential/agricultural and residential medium.
The ordinance also increases allowed density of residential development for several areas - including Springwood Golf Course - from 4.5 units per acre to nine units.
Commissioner Al Granholm, who voted in favor of the zoning changes, said the township has been working on the rezoning process for years and has tried to involve residents in meetings and workshops, which were sparsely attended.
"We really believe to foster growth and maintain our tax base we have to have a comprehensive zoning plan," Granholm said. "With zoning, we're keeping up with how things are now. We need more than steeples and houses to develop the township."
During the hearing, resident Sarah McDowell Barshinger told commissioners that she disagreed with parts of her family's McDowell farmland being zoned commercial. She said the farm has been in the family for more than 100 years.
"In May, the farmland was still considered residential," she said. "We were not aware that that was changing to commercial she said. We're not asking for commercial."
Commissioner Robert Kessler said he voted against the zoning changes because he wanted to table the issue for 24 hours and wait until Tuesday night's commissioners' meeting to make the decision. He said waiting a day would give him time to think about residents' comments and talk to staff about the concerns he heard during the hearing.
"But (the commissioners) made a decision and I'm going to endorse what they've done," Kessler said. "I've only been on the board since January, but the staff has been working on this for years."
Kessler said he still wants to look into the concerns residents have about the zoning changes and hopes they and the board can work together to resolve issues.
Commissioner Paul Knepper recused himself from the hearing and voting process and sat in the audience. Knepper said he did not participate because he has property on Coventry Road that is being rezoned from medium density to high density residential.
"Actually, my property is being zoned back to what it was 15 years ago," Knepper said after the meeting. "Rezoning doesn't mean somebody is going to come in with a bulldozer and (ruin) the township."
-Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org.