Philipsburg

Keystone Corrections returns to Rush Township seeking OK for detention facility project

Rush Township supervisors is meeting Tuesday about a proposal for halfway house to move into the former motel across the street from Cold Stream Dam along U.S. Route 322.
Rush Township supervisors is meeting Tuesday about a proposal for halfway house to move into the former motel across the street from Cold Stream Dam along U.S. Route 322. CDT photo

They said they would be back.

In April 2013, Keystone Corrections was turned down by Rush Township for plans to build a 300-bed residential detention facility on U.S. Route 322 just east of Philipsburg. It would house state prisoners on work release like owner Terry Davis’ similar Harrisburg center.

Rush’s Planning Commission said no and township supervisors agreed, basing the decision on incomplete paperwork and PennDOT recommendations on the entrance to the property on the heavily traveled road.

Residents had protested based on proximity to a day-care center, homes with children and a gun shop. Davis was adamant.

“We will be resubmitting,” he said almost two years ago.

At 1 p.m. Tuesday, the company will be back, this time in front of the zoning hearing board to appeal a decision on the next generation of the project.

The new proposal would place a facility in a former motel across Route 322 from Cold Stream Dam and its playground.

In his letter to the zoning hearing board, attorney John Feichtel detailed the history of the project at the latest location. The property was purchased in May 2014 by TWL Inc., and when zoning officer Michelle Merrow was contacted to obtain operating permits in October, the company claims that, instead, township solicitor Dave Mason responded, explaining that, again, incomplete paperwork was a hurdle.

But the seven-page letter regarding the appeal does not address paperwork. It takes issue with zoning, including the idea that a residential facility such as the one planned would not be permitted in the area in question, only accepted in an industrial enterprise zone rather than a commercial one.

The property has served as a drug rehabilitation halfway house for women in the past. Pyramid Healthcare also operated out of the building for several years.

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