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Mount Joy Township Joins in Opposition to Closing Elizabethtown Court

The magisterial district court office in Elizabethtown.

Days after Conoy Township supervisors agreed to oppose the closing to the magisterial district court in Elizabethtown, Mount Joy Township supervisors also agreed to oppose the closing and decided to reach out to other municipalities served by the court to form a coalition to keep the court open.

“We haven’t received any official communication” about the possibility of closing the court, Mount Joy Township Manager Justin Evans told supervisors at their meeting on Monday, April 16; he was reacting to news reports. Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker had told LNP in December 2016 that he might eliminate the Elizabethtown court and three others in an attempt to save money; he reiterated that he might eliminate the Elizabethtown court as he confirmed that longtime Elizabethtown Magisterial District Judge Jayne F. Duncan was resigning effective April 8. A senior judge has taken over her duties.

Evans told supervisors Elizabethtown Borough Manager Roni Ryan had reached out to him earlier in the day to discuss working to keep the court open. Evans said Ryan had spoken with West Donegal Township Manager John Yoder about keeping the court open. Evans said if the court were to close, police would have to travel longer distances for hearings, adding to the cost to local taxpayers. Also, he said there would be greater costs to the citizens for the increased travel distance. Supervisor Debra Dupler said officers had to travel to court in Lititz when Duncan was not hearing criminal cases because of a dispute with the district attorney’s office, adding significantly to their mileage and travel time.

“You can’t get to Lititz from here – not straight,” Dupler said.

Traveling from the Northwest Regional Police Department headquarters to the court in Lititz is more than a 15-mile drive; driving to the Elizabethtown court is a 3.5-mile drive. If cases were to go to the court in Mount Joy, that would be a 5.9-mile drive.

Mount Joy Township supervisors’ decision to oppose the closing of the Elizabethtown court came after Conoy Township supervisors voted on Thursday, April 12, to send a letter expressing opposition to closing the court.

In other business at their meeting on Monday, April 16, Mount Joy Township supervisors voted unanimously to direct township staff to erect a sign along Homestead Road alerting drivers that children play there at the request of Darrel Martin, who lives along the road and said traffic moves fast there and it is hard to see eastbound traffic near his home because it is blocked by a knoll.

Supervisors also heard from Robert Sichelstiel, chief financial officer of Pennmark Management Company, about land the company owns at the intersection of Route 230 and Cloverleaf Road.

“We know that there’s a traffic issue and we want to help,” Sichelstiel said.

Supervisors asked Sichelstiel to bring the township a plan for developing the area that they can consider, saying that they have repeatedly asked for such a plan.

“We’ve been treading water so long I’m going to need water wings,” Supervisor Gerald Cole said about the delays in seeing a plan.

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