WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. – The Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners on Monday night discussed an ordinance amending the zoning code to “reduce the negative impact of outdoor commercial cooking operations in residential neighborhoods.”
A hearing on the bill had been on last month’s agenda but no vote was taken. The bill was back before commissioners Monday night because the township’s planning commission questioned the lack of definitions contained in the ordinance, fearing it could be too vague to enforce. Specifically, the bill is devoid what constitutes an outdoor commercial cooker, and what defines commercial cooking.
When asked by President Philip Ginder if the bill, as written, was sufficient for township officials to enforce, Solicitor Jack Gross replied that no additional definitions would be required and that he was fairly certain the ordinance “could be enforced the way it is.”
In an ensuing discussion, the board noted the amendment was designed to prevent for-profit commercial enterprises from habitually cooking outdoors — it was not its intent to prevent any private resident from periodically cooking out.
“The whole point was to try to give the residents some protection,” said Ginder about the bill’s creation. “These residents can’t be smoked out of their houses.”
“We don’t want to limit people’s ability to cook out,” said Commissioner Jeffrey Warren.
“We’re not talking about an individual property owner doing a weekend picnic,” added Ginder.
By approving the bill, Ginder added it would provide “a starting point” for the township’s enforcement measures and could be modified, if needed.
As it was a discussion item, no vote was taken Monday night. Gross said commissioners could vote on it as soon as September.
In other news, the board advanced an ordinance to amend township employee personnel policies and procedures. Specifically, the changes would alter the township’s harassment policies, providing employees with more options for reporting misconduct.
s also forwarded an ordinance authorizing the acceptance of a proposal for the purchase of a 2022 Ford F250 4-by-4 pickup truck for use by the Department of Public Works.
Finally, the board moved forward a resolution requesting a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Keystone Communities Program for the Whitehall Parkway Pavilion Project. The project will consist of installing a pre-engineered open-air pavilion with restrooms and concession areas on the parkway. In total, the parkway spans about 110 acres near the center of the township. It is used primarily to hike, fish and bird watch.