Lady Liberty tips her torch to North Middleton Township

“With liberty and justice for all.”
As the words of the Pledge of Allegiance faded, and chairs scraped as audience members took their seats, the North Middleton Township Zoning Hearing Board meeting began on Thursday night.

The Board was scheduled to hear the appeal of the Peace Centre, a Muslim school and prayer facility in the Cumberland County township. In October 2005, Township officials sent the Centre a cease and desist letter, telling it that it could not operate as a school and worship facility because the building was located in an industrial zone. Through its attorney, Carl C. Risch, the Peace Centre disputed the Township’s position and asked for a variance, which would permit the Centre to operate in the industrial zone.

After testimony from one of the Centre’s administrators and community members, the three Board members deliberated. One of the Board members paused and looked out at the audience, where supporters of the Peace Centre sat waiting anxiously. The Board member noted our country’s long tradition of religious liberty, then made a motion to grant the Centre a variance. The two other board members agreed and within moments, the variance was granted.

The words of the Pledge of Allegiance — liberty and justice for all — were heard loud and clear in Cumberland County. Lady Liberty sends her thanks.

Paula in Harrisburg