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Muncy Township hunting preserve unsettled

By Staff | Jun 23, 2020

Lycoming County commissioners were set to decide on an amendment to restrict hunting preserves to areas of the county zoned resource protection at last Thursday’s meeting.

But in a perhaps unexpected move, commissioners ended up instead reverting to a recommendation made by the county planning commission in November that preserves be allowed in areas zoned not only resource protection, but countryside and agricultural as well.

The vote was 2-1.

Commissioners Tony Mussare and Scott Metzger voted yes.Commissioner Rick Mirabito voted no.

The amendment will be advertised and be considered by commissioners later this month.

Stacy Fry, of Muncy Township, is proposing the preserve on land he owns near Pennsdale.

The issue has been discussed and debated by county officials in recent weeks. A petition signed by more than 50 property owners has come out in opposition to the preserve.

Mussare, who made the motion for the amendment, said his decision came down to individual property rights.

Mussare said he understood the concerns of neighboring property owners who opposed the preserve. He also noted that a recent tour of the property by commissioners led him to conclude that the preserve did not pose an environment they should be worried about.

“The zoning hearing board is who they should appeal to,” he said.

Mirabito said it isn’t a question of taking land away from Fry.

“He can buy land in a resource protection area or the 31 municipalities out of county zoning,” he said.

Mirabito noted that the rights of neighbors must also be considered. People, he said, invest in the land where they live with the expectation of enjoying a certain quality of life.

Metzger said the issue has been considered at length by local government bodies, including Muncy Township supervisors and the county planning commission.

“Nobody wants certain things in their neighborhood,” Metzger said. “Things change. You want to make thing as beautiful as possible. You should be able to do want you want on your property as long as its within zoning laws.”

The zoning hearing board will ultimately have the final say in the matter, he added.

Mirabito said the planning commission made the wrong recommendation. Planning commissioner member Howard Fry disagreed.

“We did not know who the person was, or where the property was, nor did we care. We acted on what was in front of us,” he said.