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Borough Council wants to fine-tune zoning amendment

February 11, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A proposed zoning ordinance amendment that would put some distance between residential and business properties in areas zoned for commercial activity will get more fine-tuning before the Chambersburg Borough Council is ready to put it to a vote.

The council discussed a package of zoning ordinance amendments Monday night, but decided to have borough attorneys review it and consult with the chairman of the borough Planning and Zoning Commission for possible revisions before scheduling a public hearing.

Under one amendment, housing developments within areas zoned distributed commercial highway would be allowed only by special exceptions granted by the borough's zoning hearing board. The same restrictions on housing would apply in medium manufacturing areas, according to the proposals.

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Residential developments within distributed commercial highway or medium manufacturing zones would require a buffer area at least 15 feet wide and 5 feet tall, topped with plants or trees. Residential developers also would have the option of a 100-foot separation from a commercial property or other screening as approved by the zoning hearing board.

"What we want to do is better segregate residential from commercial," said Councilman Carl Helman.

"The onus of the buffer strip would be placed upon the residential developer" because the land is zoned for commercial uses, borough attorney Thomas Finucane said. People who in the past bought homes in commercial zones took a risk because of the lack of screening requirements, he said.

"Why involve a hearing board?" asked Charles Sioberg, a Chambersburg engineer. "It makes everyone's life easier" for residential development in commercial zones to remain a permitted use, as long as the buffering requirements are written into the ordinance.

If that were done, Sioberg said the council, rather than the zoning hearing board, would have the ability to determine whether a developer has met the buffering criteria.

The Planning and Zoning Commission list of amendment proposals, which has been in development for more than a year, contains other measures aimed at protecting residential areas. Within areas zoned as neighborhood business districts, retail businesses could not exceed 5,000 square feet, according to one amendment.

Another amendment calls for two light manufacturing zones - one in the area of Lincoln Way West and Loudon Street in the borough's west end; the other in the area of Norland and Fifth avenues in the northeastern part of town - to be changed to distributed commercial highway zones, Borough Planner Gary Norris said.

Neither has any light manufacturing businesses at present, Norris told the council. Each adjoins areas already zoned distributed commercial highway, he said.

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