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Downtown business district proposed in Waynesboro

December 15, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Hoping to keep intact the bracelet of buildings lining Main Street, the Waynesboro Planning Commission is recommending a new zoning designation to "protect the architectural integrity of the downtown," Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger said Wednesday.

The planning commission met earlier this week with members of Main Street Waynesboro Inc. and the Waynesboro Borough Council to go over a plan for a new zoning district that would set apart the downtown business district.

The outcome was a planning commission vote to recommend that the council adopt a new downtown business district zone.

The new ordinance, if the council accepts it, would protect the business core - west to east from Grant to Broad streets, north to Alley No. 1 and south to Gay Street, said Kevin Grubbs, head of engineering for the borough.

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The council will review the proposal Wednesday night and if it accepts it, will set a public hearing followed by legal ads. A vote to adopt the ordinance could occur as soon as February, Hamberger said.

The new zone sets a zero lot line requirement for any new buildings. That rule, Hamberger said, "would prevent someone from coming in and tearing down three or four buildings and putting up a big-box store with a parking lot in front. We want to maintain the architectural character of the downtown."

Also, Hamberger said, the new zone will "hopefully encourage development downtown."

"This is a major change," Grubbs said. "It will keep the downtown intact."

"It's a good idea to preserve the historic character of downtown," said MaryBeth Hockenberry, executive director of the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce.

According to the proposal, the new zone will encourage diversity among professional and business offices, retail sales and commercial services.

Among the uses allowed are retail sales, government buildings, civic and cultural facilities, restaurants and banks without drive-through services, professional and business offices, taxi stands, churches, commercial schools, clubs and fraternal organizations, funeral homes, apartments above first-floor commercial space, business and professional offices in homes, and licensed group homes, the proposal states.

Special exceptions would be required for restaurants and banks with drive-through services, hotels and motels, parking lots and parking structures, auto repair shops, day-care centers, and bed and breakfasts.

Banned would be new single-family homes, car washes, adult movie theaters and bookstores, health clubs, spas, massage parlors and exercise studios "which appeal to the prurient interest without any redeeming social value."

Any new buildings would have to be at least two stories high to fit in with the existing streetscape.

Most of what is included in the new zoning district was taken from the borough's existing zoning ordinance, said Jim Fisher, secretary of Main Street Waynesboro Inc.

The new zoning is significant, Fisher said.

"It will preserve the borough's greatest asset - the continuous line of buildings along Main Street," Fisher said.

The whole streetscape is worth more than any single building of architectural significance, he said.

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