November 28, 2012 —
There will be no booze, no parking, no trespassing. Those are some of the public safety issues addressed in the Lackawaxen township board’s proposal regarding use of a parcel of land on the Lackawaxen River owned by Kittatinny Canoes (KC). Whether it can be used as a commercial launch for watercraft had been previously answered by the property’s history.
Known locally as the Threshman property, it was bought by the Threshman family in 1954. Records of its use as a boat launch date back at least to the early 1970s. It was operating when the town passed an ordinance banning such businesses on the Lackawaxen in 1992, but the important historical event happened in the late ’90s.
“There’s an affidavit from our former zoning officer acknowledging it is a non-conforming use. Makes it a little difficult to say it’s not,” said township solicitor Anthony Waldron.
Having the non-conforming use status means the business is legitimate. Supervisor chairman Brian Stuart is looking forward and said, “Now, it’s just a matter of imposing reasonable conditions.”
An agreement, crafted by the town based on dialogue with the attorney for KC, is an attempt by the town to try to keep control of a situation landowners along the banks of the river fear could be chaotic and unsafe. No alcohol will be permitted; only KC employees and KC vehicles carrying watercraft can park on the property; and KC has to instruct its riders not to trespass on private riverbank property.
Resident Cathy Reicheg was not pleased. In a reference to KC drivers, she said, “Those kids drive like maniacs. They are going to be dragging these big trucks with canoes on them up the road, and that’s one of our big concerns.”
Not so, said KC operations manager Allen Crouthamel. “We do driver training because we’re not only concerned about the transportation of our equipment, we’re more concerned with the transportation of our guests as well as the general public on the road. It does no one any good if there’s an accident.”
Reicheg has complained in the past about KC passengers. Excessive drinking, trespassing and people relieving themselves on her property have topped the list. But Crouthamel says alcohol use is not part of the KC boating experience. “On the Lackawaxen, we do not allow it. But we are not bound by that, it is not the law, we have been doing that to be good neighbors.” Now that the town is trying to make it a law, will they continue that policy? “Yes, yes, we will,” Crouthamel said.
There is a question about who can enforce rules on the river, and the answer is apparently not the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP). When attempts were made to report bad behavior, residents said, PSP said they were not going to respond. Others said when the police did arrive, it was an hour or so later, and nothing could be done. The reigning authority on the Lackawaxen is the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, and according to residents it is also not responsive.
The town is the last line of defense. Residents can file complaints with the town, whose code enforcer can initialize an investigation and fine KC or revoke their non-conforming use permit. KC can be contacted directly as well.
After making small corrections, the proposal goes back to KC attorneys. When agreed on and the board approves it, a permit will be issued.