Zoning Testimony Labeled off Limits; Ligonier Township Supervisors This Week Heard Testimony That a Proposed Retreat for Military Veterans and Their Families on Youngstown Ridge Road Would Not Accept Guests with Mental Health Problems Such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. [Derived Headline]

By Himler, Jeff | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 14, 2016 | Go to article overview

Zoning Testimony Labeled off Limits; Ligonier Township Supervisors This Week Heard Testimony That a Proposed Retreat for Military Veterans and Their Families on Youngstown Ridge Road Would Not Accept Guests with Mental Health Problems Such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. [Derived Headline]


Himler, Jeff, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Ligonier Township supervisors this week heard testimony that a proposed retreat for military veterans and their families on Youngstown Ridge Road would not accept guests with mental health problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

But solicitor Michael Korns advised the five-member township board that it should not consider any statements regarding the site's guests when it decides whether to approve the retreat as a conditional use in the local agricultural zone.

Korns said the supervisors should focus on whether the retreat, which would operate under the guidelines of a bed and breakfast, meets the requirements of the township zoning ordinance and additional conditions the supervisors would impose -- for instance, that it would comply with state regulations regarding such accommodations.

Korns suggested the supervisors might vote at their Sept. 27 meeting on the application submitted by property owners John and Terri Hughes, the couple who want to open the retreat.

According to Korns' directions, the supervisors will have to disregard some testimony presented by neighbors at an Aug. 9 session of the hearing. Supervisors Bruce Robinson, Gary Thistlethwaite and D. Scott Matson heard concerns about the impact on safety or property values for neighbors if veterans suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder would stay at the retreat.

At Korns' suggestion, the hearing was continued this week so that Supervisors Wade Thomas and Paul Knupp also could hear testimony and review a transcript from the Aug. 9 proceedings.

Korns stressed that the testimony referring to the nature of guests could not be considered because it's not relevant to the terms of the zoning ordinance.

"Ligonier Township does not discriminate in any form against veterans or any other individuals," he added, saying federal law prohibits such discrimination.

At the August session, a man who hunts on an adjoining property expressed concern about veterans who might use walking trails near the retreat. Korns responded this week by pointing out that state laws place the burden on hunters to "make sure you are not putting anyone in danger."

James Andrews, a licensed clinical and certified forensic social worker from Ligonier, testified that he's agreed to serve as the volunteer director of administration for the retreat, which would be operated by the nonprofit Patriot Hills of New York. …

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Zoning Testimony Labeled off Limits; Ligonier Township Supervisors This Week Heard Testimony That a Proposed Retreat for Military Veterans and Their Families on Youngstown Ridge Road Would Not Accept Guests with Mental Health Problems Such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. [Derived Headline]
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