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Zoning change may solve disagreement between borough, schools

August 05, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A proposed amendment to height regulations in Chambersburg's zoning ordinance could put an end to a disagreement between the Borough Council and Chambersburg Area School District.

The proposed amendment, which will be the subject of a public hearing on Wednesday, Aug. 25, would raise the height limit for nonresidential structures in low-density residential areas from 35 to 40 feet. The limit affected a 17-acre property owned by the school district.

On May 26 the council changed the zoning of the site, which is across the street from Chambersburg High School, from light industrial to low-density residential. That lowered the height limit to 35 feet. In June the district filed a motion appealing the decision to Franklin County Court, according to Borough Manager Eric Oyer.

"We don't consider ourselves to be at odds with the council," School Superintendent Dr. Edwin Sponseller told the council Wednesday night. He said the district is experiencing a shortage of secondary classrooms and plans to build a school for the ninth and 10th grades at the site sometime in the next five or 10 years.

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The land was once the site of the J. Schoeneman Co. clothing factory, most of which was demolished after the district bought the property. Council President Bernard Washabaugh said the zoning was changed because the council wanted it to be consistent with the surrounding area.

Sponseller said afterward that a three-story school building at the site would have exceeded the height limit. Even if the amendment is approved, the district would have to seek a variance on the 40-foot limit from the borough's Zoning Hearing Board, he said. However, the variance would be smaller with the higher limit.

The district is now renovating a remaining portion of the J. Schoeneman plant for administrative offices. Sponseller said another building on the site will be renovated for classroom space, probably within the next two years.

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