Reason and logic defied ambiguity and loaded questions last night as the Whitehall Township Zoning Board met to decide amongst the other things on their agenda; the fate of Porkus Maximus.
As many of you are aware Porkus Maximus was served with an eviction notice by Whitehall TWP code enforcementrix Melissa Ceasar. Ceaser, upon discovering Porkus’s tranquil existence decided he had to go.
This edict has caused Holly Hacker, his loving owner (she would probably prefer I say companion), such grief she has missed time from her duties as a mail carrier and this case has cost her great expense in hiring a skilled attorney to defend her right to keep her beloved pet.
And a pet it is, contrary to how code enforcemntrix Ceasar interprets a written law that has no provision for specific breeds of domesticated creatures.
The atmosphere in front of the Whitehall Township Municipal Building was charged with emotion as supporters of Holly Hacker and Porkus Maximus came out en masse to stand by Porkus, the unofficial mascot of the area.
Waving signs, holding custom paintings, wearing pig noses and pig hats, many in the community were in attendance to make their position clear, Porkus needs to stay! Zoning board be damned!
Folks were gathered in front of the Whitehall Township building prior to the 7pm start time. The atmosphere was social yet purposeful. The center of attention was Porkus and his best friend Holly.
Slightly before 7p.m. the doors to the township building were opened and the crowd started filing in. All available seats and standing areas to the back of the room were quickly filled before people were barred from entering. As everyone took their seats, those who had the list of proceedings were pleased to see Holly’s case was first on the docket.
After everyone was comfortably seated and settled in came an announcement that the order of the court would be changed. Holly’s case originally scheduled to be first up was now last. This news was greeted by a collective groan from those in attendance, but no one got up to leave. The supporters there for Porkus and Holly had no intention of departing even if that was the ultimate hope of the zoning board.
In an overheated and stuffy room, the Porkus crowd held their ground; they were seeing this to the bitter end. Those outside the building stood tall and did not depart either. There would be no swaying these neighbors, friends and supporters of Porkus.
The crowd was forced to listen to lengthy proceedings on two other zoning cases, and while annoyed, their resolve grew deeper.
Finally after a brief recess from the board, it was time to make the case for Porkus. Holly’s Attorney Dan Dougherty was masterful in his opening arguments. He called Holly up to the podium and she remained calm and composed as they went through their vast amount of evidential information. They were well prepared and ready to fight.
Township attorney Chris Gittinger at one point asked an absolutely inane question regarding the children in the town; had they visited more after Porkus’s arrival than prior. Since Holly had lived in the home only one month before she brought Porkus home and she also has a busy day job the point was moot. Not sure where he was going with that, but the neighbors who testified all spoke to the fact that Porkus has enriched the neighborhood and brought former strangers together.
Gittinger seemed determined to hammer home his case but his line of questioning was weak at best. Finally the floor was opened up for speakers. The main speaker was neighbor Joanne Hoke who has lived in her house across the street from Hacker for about 27 years.
Mrs. Hoke was brilliantly eloquent in her recounting of how she became acquainted with Porkus. She said she was happy he wasn’t a pit bull who might attack her small dog Wyatt. There was some levity during the proceedings before it became apparent Wyatt was her dog and not her husband.
Toward the end of the proceedings there was a call for speakers, 6 people rose to the occasion on the behalf of Porkus. One resident Marlene Polger has lived in the immediate area for 42 years, she feels Porkus has enriched the neighborhood, bringing together people who once kept to themselves and uniting them as a true community.
Another speaker was Tricia Mezzacappa, a registered nurse who faced the same battle as Hacker back in 1999 when West Easton questioned her Pot bellied Pig. Ultimately she was victorious and now speaks on behalf of others fighting the same battle. She testified before the board that Porkus was indeed a pet and not a hog.
Once all statements and arguments were made the board went into a huddle to decide the fate of Porkus. Luckily the board voted 4-1 to allow a variance for Porkus. This does not mean Whitehall residents can now go hog-wild and purchase Pot Bellied pigs. This ruling applies to this case alone until the board takes further action. This specific issue is far from complete as well, if the Whitehall Township council wants to appeal the ruling they certainly can. Hopefully the case of Porkus is resolved, and he can live happily ever after without fear the big bad wolf is going to blow his house down.
Slideshow photographs courtesy of Ruth Rohrer