Timetable extended for rezoning initiative

Shawn Hardy

Discussion of proposed rezoning that started in July continued at Monday night's Greencastle Planning Commission meeting.

An initial plan that had information on the comprehensive rezoning initiative in borough council's hands by September has now been extended to the beginning of 2019, with separate nights of discussion for the three areas targeted for rezoning.

The southern end of the borough in the area of Washington and Carlisle streets drew the most comments Monday and will be revisited in September.

The proposed overhaul involves three main areas, borough solicitor Zachary Rice of Salzmann Hughes explained in July.

  • Route 16 west of the U.S. 11 interchange: change general residential to mixed use. Better zoned for redevelopment
  • South central portion of the borough (area of South Carlisle and Washington streets): change industrial and residential to mixed use

Better zoned for redevelopment. Creates better shaped contiguous mixed use and industrial zones. Further limits industrial area

  • Easternmost portion of the borough off Route 16 (area of Eastern Avenue): change community commercial II to highway commercial. Better zone for redevelopment. Community commercial II zone removed, too similar to highway commercial.

 To the south 

Switching zoning from residential and industrial in the southern area to mixed use is to "prime the area for potential beneficial redevelopment and retain the neighborhood feel," Rice said Monday

Residents and industry owners think the neighborhood is fine just the way it is.

Angie Garland, who lives on South Washington Street, brings experience as Antrim Township's former zoning officer to the issue and read from the borough zoning code on issues like promoting orderly growth and maximum protection of residential uses.

The proposed rezoning "goes against many of the tenets" of the zoning code, she said.

"We like our industrial neighbors," said Garland, explaining that changing the zoning from industrial to mixed use will make them nonconforming uses and limit what they can do in the future. Local residents know places like Danco and Precision Manufacturing are properly screened and have a regular shut down time.

"Why do you want to fix something that isn't broken?" asked Dan Reynolds, owner of Danco Products. "We try to be good stewards of our property."

He described a rezoning in Antrim Township that limited his growth near Milnor Road and moving his company to the borough.

"If we ever want to expand, we could run into the same situation," Reynolds said. He added his business pays over $50,000 a year in school taxes, while apartment buildings and homes don't pay that much and also contribute to student enrollment.

The existing industries would be "grandfathered in," but that "only lasts until everyone forgets we were grandfathered in," said William Reynolds, vice president of Danco.

Eden Ratliff, borough manager, said rezoning is not about chasing anyone away, but thinking in the long term.

"It sounds like no one affected wants this change," said Garland.

To the east 

The rezoning of Eastern Avenue from community commercial to highway commercial also was touched on.

Bud O'Mara, who lives in the nearby Orchard development said the area is already congested and allowing uses like hotels, motels truck terminals, shopping centers and the like could have unintended consequences.

It also abuts the Greencastle-Antrim School District's Tayamentasachta environmental center.

"Why would you want to put highway commercial next to a residential area and where we educate our children?" asked Garland.

"We're trying to look at the best use of the property 30 to 50 years in the future," Ratliff said, adding no one has committed to making the area highway commercial.

What's next 

"This is not just an exercise," said Steve Miller, borough council president who was in the audience. "This is something council has struggled with. What does the community look like in the future? We want to hear what people have to say."

Discussion of the proposed rezoning of the southern end of the borough will continue at the planning commission's Sept. 10 meeting. Different aspects of the proposal will be discussed at each of the monthly planning commission meetings through the end of the year. The meetings begin at 6 p.m. the second Monday of the month.

The schedule has borough council looking at it the first two meetings in 2019, at 7 p.m. on Mondays, Jan. 7 and Feb. 4.