Neighbors, Martin spar over property on N. Grant St.

July 18, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A request to rezone property on Pa. 316 was tabled by the Waynesboro Planning Commission but not before it yielded a heated exchange between residents and the developer, with arguments spilling from the meeting room to the hallway Monday.

The bickering during the planning commission meeting ended with a $280,000 sale offer on the table for the former Zacks convenience store at 405 N. Grant St.

Developer Ronnie Martin offered to have a deed transfer drawn up immediately for the price he paid plus his expenditures for removing gas tanks and closing costs.

"I'll document every nickel. You'll pay just that amount," he said to the North Grant Street residents opposing his plan for a financial institution.


The neighbors have contended the business would create traffic hazards in an area traveled by children using Northside Pool.

"There's enough accidents on that street as it is. My nephew got hit on a bicycle right up there by the pool," Brenda Lucas of 312 N. Grant St. said.

She and Mike Walters of 315 N. Grant St. are two of the residents who have joined together to fight the rezoning request. Dozens have signed petitions and met in living rooms.

Walters supported Martin's offer to sell.

"The borough should buy it. We don't have enough parking for the pool. We need a rec center," Walters said.

The only councilman at the planning commission meeting, Dick George, said the matter will be discussed by the full council.

The rezoning request would take the property from medium-density residential to general commercial. The convenience store had been a nonconforming use on the property.

Using an old zoning map as his evidence, Martin contended that the property was zoned general commercial before the borough's comprehensive plan was updated in 1990.

"Why this changed, I don't know. It has been a commercial property for 50 years," Martin said.

The Franklin County (Pa.) Planning Commission opposed Martin's rezoning request.

"The request appears to be spot zoning," the county commission wrote in a letter.

The determination whether a request is spot zoning is based on size of the parcel, topography, location, characteristics and if the rezoned land would be treated differently from surrounding properties, Solicitor Melissa Dively said.

"There's no magic definition for spot zoning. There's no parameter to say (whether) this is spot zoning," she said, pointing to case law.

The property abuts commercial zoning in Washington Township, Pa., and is included in residential zoning in the Borough of Waynesboro.

Stephen Monn of 126 W. Main St. said he feels the comprehensive plan indicates the intent is to keep the area residential. If that lot is rezoned to general commercial, then the next will be and the one beside that, he said.

Monn described "the domino effect down Grant Street."

"We don't need another Rouzerville on the side of (Pa.) 316," Walters said.

Residents agree they want something to open on the site but feel the financial institution would snarl traffic with a drive-thru, Walters said.

"The (Zacks) store, it's an eyesore. We all agree on that," he said.

Martin said residents have thanked him for bringing the business and its potential employment to the area. He asked the crowd to name one project he's done that hasn't benefited the community to which a few people shouted "Rutter's" and "Red Roof Storage."

The planning commission deferred the request to its Aug. 14 meeting, saying it wants traffic counts and records of accidents.

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