Welcome to 2014! Do you feel any different?
Nah, me neither. But depending on how several municipal boards vote this month, the southwestern portion of Carlisle could feel a little different.
Goodman Birtcher North America is proposing four warehouses with about 2.8 million square feet there. The two largest warehouses will be in Dickinson Township, but the property also lies in South Middleton and West Pennsboro townships, as well as Carlisle. The company needs zoning changes in all but South Middleton, where warehouses are allowed.
Carlisle closed its hearings on the warehouse project Dec. 12 but is waiting until Dickinson Township renders a decision to cast its own.
For Goodman Birtcher, this could be the turn it's needed, since resident opposition, and an air-space height restriction, killed its warehouse plans in Fairview Township, York County.
Keep in mind, this is just the zoning fight. We can likely expect to hear more in the months to come as the company seeks final development plan approval. If the zoning change is made.
Some people look at this process and see the tedium of navigating Pennsylvania's municipal systems. Or maybe they see ongoing issues of industry versus clean air, or even whether warehouses are (or are not) ugly to the character of a town.
There could be a case that this is even a microcosm of small business vs. big business. Some small businesses often charge that large companies have to jump through hoops but ultimately get preferential treatment.
Goodman Birtcher — and other large companies — would argue they're not trying to put the screws to the little guy; they have as much interest in bolstering the local economy. But sometimes we have to ask ourselves, does the little business get second-class status in the shadow of its big sister?
Michelle Line sees it that way. Her Dickinson Township farm borders the proposed Goodman Birtcher warehouses. She raises free-range chickens and other grass-fed animals. She's concerned the pollution from truck traffic, and more warehouses, are a risk to the farm she's trying to grow into a business.
Line is seeking to have her farm certified organic, which takes years of monitoring and testing to make sure livestock are not being polluted, she said. Will her farm be able to continue as an organic business enterprise if area pollution increases?
Others in Carlisle and Dickinson have expressed their concern over whether one property owner is being treated differently than everyone else.
"We're allowing one man to spot-zone property," Line said at the Dec. 12 Carlisle hearing. "If they can do that, what's to prevent everyone from doing the same?"
Law is the prevention in many cases, but you get the point about preferential treatment she's making here.