New zoning plan gets favorable response

PAT FRIDGEN

As a result of public comments from a previous meeting, Antrim Township zoning officer Sylvia House revised the first draft of proposed zoning changes and presented them to the board of supervisors and planning commission March 18.

Supervisors Curtis Myers, Rick Baer, Sam Miller and Fred Young III, and planning members Larry Eberly, Delbert Myers, Joel Wenger and Lester Musselman saw draft number 2 for the first time, along with approximately 10 residents.

"I revised the map based on what I heard," said House.

She split rural residential into R1 and R2, which added a low and medium density district to the plan. The other zones remained the same: agricultural, community commercial, highway commercial, and industrial. The number was pared down from the current plan, which has 12 zones.

The percent of use for each district changed somewhat on draft No. 2, with agricultural up three percent to 65.7, the two residential zones totalling 16.5 instead of 7.1, CC down to 7.6 from 19.9, highway commercial down to 4.5 from 6.4, and industrial up to 5.7 from 3.8 percent.

House said the new model added flexibility for commercial properties. The CC zone included 800 feet on either side of Route 16 to allow interconnection between businesses so customers wouldn't have to go back onto Route 16.

A landowner on Hykes Road had asked that his farm stay agricultural even though the area around him would become CC and industrial. House told the supervisors that allowance was up to them, but the farmer could continue to operate no matter what use was assigned to the zone.

She added that farms in ag security in the HC and industrial areas would have to be removed, so they would no longer be eligible for farm preservation.

Wenger suggested that land east of I-81 was better for farming than elsewhere in the township, and he wanted commercial uses on less productive land.

In general, supervisors and the planning members were pleased with the new plan and no one expressed outright opposition.

"I think it is a large improvement," House said. The board had to schedule a worksession with Antrim Township Municipal Authority to ask it to expand its service area, and a public hearing would take place before any changes were adopted, she said.

Other business

The board approved a letter of support for Atapco, which is seeking a state grant to help with debt service for its infrastructure construction costs in the township.

Antrim is still in negotiations with PennDOT and Atapco on an assumption agreement concerning Exit 3.  With federal money being used to upgrade the exit, Antrim is considered the local lead for the project. Administrator Brad Graham said the township wants to pass the responsibility on to Atapco, which is developing a site across U.S. 11 from the exit ramp. Solicitor John Lisko had advised that since Antrim would be liable if Atapco defaulted, the township should get a letter of credit. "That's what we're hung up on," said Graham.

Two supervisors will meet with PennDOT and Atapco to resolve the issues.

When Lisko's suggestion of the LOC rose from $1 million to $5 million, "that's when PennDOT said maybe we're taking it too far," said Graham.