JIM THORPE, CARBON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A controversy is unfolding in a Carbon County community and it all has to do with the updating of the borough’s zoning laws.
Questions and concerns are being raised about what is contained in a preliminary draft proposal as it pertains to so-called “functional families.”
Jim Thorpe borough officials tell Eyewitness News this is a work in progress and that a final draft of the zoning laws is months away at best.
But some residents, and at least one councilmember, are raising questions about a draft pertaining to so-called “Functional families.”
Jim Thorpe borough officials tell Eyewitness News they began reviewing its zoning ordinances more than a year ago and hired a consultant to work on that update.
That review will involve everything from signs on businesses, to commercial expansion, and even parking places.
Council member Jessica Crowley says a draft proposal would regulate the number of unrelated people living in a residence raises concerns.
“I can tell you the first sentence that says it is known that large groups of unrelated roommates are detrimental to a community because they have no emotional or economic ties to the community. So that’s the first thing, what is that? What is that? That’s not supposed to be in a zoning law, it doesn’t even make sense,” said Crowley.
Crowley insists the wording she saw in the draft raises red flags.
“The wording being used in this particular section feels incredibly dangerous because it feels like it leaves a lot of room for discrimination,” Crowley continues.
Brian Evans is a property owner in Jim Thorpe. He was a member of a Jim Thorpe Council Committee designed to give input into the zoning law review.
He showed us a copy of a preliminary draft given to him by the borough in July of this year. He posted the draft to his social media site.
“The one main issue that’s come up is the idea of a functional family is something which is in our previous zoning laws but has been updated and not removed because what the law says if you’re not a family member or meets certain criteria like church members or just friends or group of people living together it effectively prohibits that,” Evans explained.
Evans insists his mission is to get the public involved in the process.
“We don’t necessarily want the zoning laws to reflect what I want or what the neighbor wants. We want just the community to be involved and understand the scope of what’s happening,” said Evans.
Jim Thorpe Council Chairperson Greg Strubinger tells Eyewitness News there is no official draft.
“There is not a final draft as we speak. This is a work in progress. [The] council’s intention is to protect every citizen. There is no intent to discriminate against anyone or any group,” Strubiner said.
Strubinger also says that the borough does not have an official draft. He said that it will take several months at least to approve zoning updates, a process that will include public meetings.