By Gina Morton

The Daily Item

MILTON — There's no decision yet on a 32,000-square-foot gymnasium that is proposed to be built in Turbot Township, Northumberland County.

More than 30 residents joined the township zoning board at a two-hour public hearing Monday night to discuss the project, and many residents expressed concerns about increased traffic, safety and other issues, including parking, a retention pond and water and sewage use.

One resident, however, stuck out from the rest with her vocal support for the project.

"I think it's a positive thing," Janet Yordy said. "... There's not a lot of things for kids to do. It's a wonderful opportunity for the Milton area."

The gymnasium, which would be used for gymnastics, cheerleading and dance, would be built at State and Chappell roads on land owned by Dr. Glen Feltham, of Lewisburg.

Feltham and John Rowe, a gymnastics instructor from Lewisburg, said there would be no more than three gymnastics competitions a year at the center. If cheerleading would hold competitions, the maximum number would be four.

Rowe said on average, there are eight students to a class and two or three classes running simultaneously. He said there probably would be about 100 people, including parents, coaches, students and family members, in the building on a normal day.

"It is not an open playground," Rowe said. "It is structured and instructed."

J. Michael Wiley, an attorney from Williamsport, represented several families at the meeting who are concerned about the project.

"I don't think anyone is saying the gym is evil," he said. "The question we are dealing with ... is whether the zoning is permitted."

Wiley said that in the zoning ordinance under special exceptions, it states that facilities would be used for outdoor purposes.

"It excludes this type of use in an agricultural-residential district," he said to zoning board members Matthew Koch, Dr. Richard Klinetob and Byron Barrows and solicitor Robert Benion. "It might be good for the community ... but that's not your job. Your job is to say 'sorry, the way the ordinance is written, only outdoor is permitted.' "

Feltham said: "I have rights under the township ordinance and am allowed to build a facility. There are many other available facilities that are much less desirable, like prisons, halfway houses and sewage treatment plants."

The zoning members said they will announce within 10 days the date of the meeting at which they will give their decision.

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