PITTSTON TWP. — Nancy Verespy voiced her disappointment Monday night with Pittston Township supervisors’ refusal to rezone township property to make it available for use as a transitional living facility for elderly and homeless veterans.
The board unanimously voted against changing its zoning ordinance to allow for the facility.
“I believe that the use of the property at 755 S. Township Blvd. to provide a home for homeless veterans would benefit the township, and it would be the right thing to do,” said Verespy, national board member and international executive director of the Veterans Coalition.
She said the facility would have been well-staffed and residents would have been screened and monitored. She characterized potential residents of the facility as being needy and grateful, and said safeguards such as drug testing and counseling would have been implemented.
Her organization, along with the Veterans of Vietnam War, requested an exception to the ordinance from the zoning board and the supervisors in April.
“Except for Mr. Rinaldi, I never even got a call back during the whole process,” said Verespy, referring to Supervisor Steve Rinaldi. “This issue could have been more easily resolved.”
But resident James Marotto, himself a veteran, agreed with the board’s decision.
“I’ve never seen a homeless veteran in Pittston Township and I’ve never tripped over one,” said Marotto. “I believe residents of such a facility would be likely to have drug and alcohol issues, and possible mental illness.”
Bill Scott, a member of the planning commission and a 20-year veteran, said the township was not against welcoming veterans, but he stressed the zoning issue.
“The location was zoned for B2 (industrial) use,” said Scott. “We weren’t ready to change the ordinance. There are other properties in the township which are suitable for such a use.”
“There are 660 acres appropriately zoned such a facility,” said Rinaldi. “There no reason to make an exception in this case,” he said.
Zoning Officer Terry Best said allowing use of the property for the veterans facility would have “set a bad precedent” and was just not necessary.
In another matter, the board awarded the general construction contract for its police building to Quandel Contractors, using a coin toss, for $115,000. Board members indicated they had contacted the state and this was a permissible way of deciding between very similar bids.
The board also approved Scott Allen, SDA Architects to oversee that project.
The next meeting of the Board of Supervisors will be at 7 p.m. on Aug. 19.