SUNBURY — Northumberland County Judge Paige Rosini approved a petition filed by county Solicitor Frank Garrigan declaring of a portion of Northumberland County Drive a public road following a hearing Friday.

Karen Collier, administrative assistant in the county commissioner’s office, and Howard Taylor, a professional surveyor for Pennsylvania, were called by Garrigan to testify before Rosini. Collier told Rosini she provided proper notification to the press and the Coal Township commissioners regarding the petition and hearing.

Taylor testified he and Bradley Ziegler surveyed Northumberland County Drive on Sept. 5 and provided Rosini with a drawn map of the area in question, pointing out where the section of the road would begin and end.

According to Taylor, the road is already accessible to the public and no property owners would be affected by making it a public road. The road already serves the Northumberland County Jail and he doesn’t believe the county would acquire any costs by making the declaration.

No county commissioners were at the hearing, which was pushed from Oct. 11 to November due to a lawsuit filed by Commissioner Kym Best against the majority commissioners regarding a Sept. 7 petition filed by Garrigan regarding the road declaration.

Best dropped the lawsuit on Oct. 31 against Rick Shoch and Sam Schiccatano that alleged they violated the Sunshine Act by “agreeing in private” to instruct Garrigan to file the petition. At the Oct. 2 commissioners meeting, Best said she planned to withdraw preliminary objections she filed to the county’s request to have the road declared public due to the motion being placed on the agenda.

Present for the hearing was Kathleen Dunkelberger, director of community outreach for Parea Bio Sciences, who reserved comment. Parea gained state approval to open a medical marijuana facility on 10 acres of land to be purchased by the company from the county for $1.5 million.

At the Oct. 2 commissioners meeting, Parea Chief Executive Officer Krista Krebs said the road must receive the designation in order for the company to move ahead with plans to subdivide the land. That would eventually pave the way for the company to purchase the 10 acres from the county.

Parea Chief Operating Officer Ryan Hedrick said the company’s agreement with the state is that the facility must be operational Feb. 1. The company will not make the deadline due to delays related to the lawsuit, he said.

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