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Town might limit storefronts to businesses

May 12, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

WILLIAMSPORT -- A local resident's concern about storefronts in downtown Williamsport being converted into apartments sparked a discussion among Williamsport Town Council members and their attorney Monday night.

Walter Williams asked town council members if there is anything they can do to prevent more storefronts from being turned into apartments.

He said he is concerned about eventually coming up Conococheague Street some day and seeing nothing but apartments. He said the issue needs to be addressed, since the town is trying to determine its tourism potential, especially in regard to users of the nearby C&O Canal National Historical Park.

Town Council member Tearza D. Knode expressed similar concerns, especially as the town assesses its tourism attractions through the Trail Town program.

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Town attorney Ed Kuczynski said the town could designate areas that are for business only but that would have to be done carefully. One of his concerns is how the town would pick such areas.

There was a similar effort in town previously but there was resistance to the idea because people did not want to be told what to do with their property, Kuczynski said.

"It sounds simple on the surface," Kuczynski said. "There's no easy answer to it."

Kuczynski said there is a parking availability requirement in town laws that already plays a part in where apartments can be situated.

Williams said he has noticed a number of vacant storefronts in town, and he and other town residents talked outside the town council meeting Monday night about the town not having the attractions it used to have.

Kuczynski said town council members could have a land-use committee examine the issue.

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