Council decides zoning laws aren't friendly to growth

April 07, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

Members of the Waynesboro Borough Council have decided that some of their local zoning laws are unfriendly to businesses and need to be changed.

The issue surfaced Wednesday night when local developer Ronnie Martin lambasted the council members for five minutes over what he said is the borough's failure to come up with a sign ordinance that favors development.

Martin has several major projects under way in the borough that need signs.

Borough rules limit the size of free-standing signs to 20 square feet. Martin said that's too small to advertise large businesses.


"What you have does not work," Martin told the council members. "You need to talk to a developer."

He said the borough has to change what he called its anti-business laws.

"You got to do it if you want growth, revenue and tax dollars," he said. "The days of somebody coming to kiss your rings to develop in Waynesboro are over."

"We need ordinances that keep up with the times," Council President Douglas Tengler said. "We're seeing a decline in Waynesboro with empty stores."

Waynesboro has an opportunity to turn empty land and properties into tax-generating ventures, Tengler said.

Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said last week that it takes two to three months to amend an ordinance. The recommendation goes back and forth for public hearings and approvals between the borough council and planning commission, he said.

"The bottom line is that we need to evaluate the ordinances and make them more business friendly," said Councilman Clinton Barkdoll. "This is why business is avoiding Waynesboro and going to Washington Township. Rules are much less restrictive there. We need to look into making the process faster."

Barkdoll is chairman of the council's property committee. It will take up a sign ordinance amendment Tuesday. He vowed to bring a proposal that the council can vote on when it meets April 16.

Martin, 60, is a major player on the area's development scene. He owns several businesses including real estate sales and appraisals, property leasing and a construction company.

His latest ventures in Waynesboro include the nearly complete Red Roof Storage, a 150-unit self-storage facility on Pa. 997. It covers nine large buildings on 3.5 acres, has four apartments and will soon have a U-Haul truck rental facility.

His Landis Center is under construction at the intersection of South Potomac and West Fifth streets.

There are three large buildings going up on land there that Martin bought from Landis Threading System. One will be a bank, one will house two large commercial offices and the third will be an auto glass shop.

He has not announced the names of the bank or the companies that will occupy the buildings.

Martin said he wanted to include three drive-in windows and an ATM window in the bank building, but was unable to do so because of borough zoning regulations.

"The bank will have to apply for permission to add the drive-through windows," he said.

Two blocks up South Potomac, at the intersection with West Third Street, sits another potential Martin development - the former Brake Pontiac-Cadillac Inc. dealership building and land that Martin owns.

"This is the largest piece of commercial ground on a four-way intersection in the borough," he said.

His vision for the property runs from a strip shopping center with a large chain drug store as an anchor to a gas station/convenience store to a chain grocery store.

The council gave him permission to close off part of an alley that runs through the property and redirect it to Philadelphia Avenue - a move that will make developing the site easier.

"This area is going to grow and the school district isn't doing anything to prepare for it," Martin said. "Glen Afton will sell out quick once it's built," he said, referring to a controversial 169-unit housing development on Harbaugh Church Road in Washington Township.

"This is turning into a bedroom community," he said. "Growth will be tremendous here in the next five years."

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