Nonprofit for veterans may not be able to operate in Bern Township

Nonprofit for veterans may not be able to operate in Bern Township

BERN TWP., Pa. - Horses Helping Heroes is a nonprofit group in Bern Township that uses horses to help veterans.

"We set different goals. They are working a lot on communication and just doing things that they feel good about because a lot of them are retired and disabled," said Andrea Swift, director of Horses Helping Heroes.

It is a cause near and dear to Andrea Swift's heart because her father is a Vietnam veteran.

"They are some of the neatest men I have ever met. They are really heroes to all of us. What they fought for is why we have the freedoms that we do. So we are very passionate about what we do because it is our time to give back to them," said Swift.

So they moved their nonprofit from New Tripoli to a larger location in Bern Township, that has both a home and several acres down a hill to service the horses with a separate entrance.

But their organization may now be in jeopardy because the property is zoned rural residential, which does not currently permit nonprofit use.

The nonprofit would operate once a month for four hours for a period of six months a year. But neighbors are expressing concern.

"We purposely moved to get away from a business. We did research, moved to Orchard Hill development, a really nice neighborhood, to get away from that and I do not feel a business should run in rural residential," said neighbor Joe Krezdorn.

Other neighbors are concerned because the nonprofit website advertises additional commercial events to take place on the property.

"They are promoting running these events in Berks County," said neighbor David Snyder.

The zoning hearing board heard all of the grievances. It now has 45 days to decide whether to grant a zoning variance to allow Horses Helping Heroes to continue in Bern Township.

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