County recommends Springettsbury rezoning request not be adopted

John Joyce

For the second consecutive summer, the York County Planning Commission has recommended against rezoning an area around the Mount Zion Road and East Market Street intersection in Springettsbury Township.

The proposal seeks to rezone a swath of land at the intersection to allow for the future commercial development of a town center.

Senior county planner Michael Shaffer said a developer made the initial request for the rezoning in 2015. The planning commission recommended against adopting that proposal, and the township went with the recommendation, he said. But this year the township, acting on its own without a developer in place, offered an amended proposal seeking a zoning amendment for a larger area, he said.

"We were not in favor of it then," Shaffer said. "The township decided to revisit the area. They felt this proposal was better than the first."

Conflict: According to the planning commission's unofficial staff report, rezoning the parcels as requested would conflict with the pre-existing future land use section of the Springettsbury Township Comprehensive Plan for developing a town center in that same area, and it would impact the zoning designations of surrounding residential and commercial areas by making them nonconforming with their present zoning designations.

Furthermore, it would be unsafe, the planning commission report said.

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The comprehensive plan is meant to encourage "multi-modal access," with an emphasis on pedestrian traffic to and from the town center by widening streets, moving parking to the rear and adding sidewalks, Shaffer said. The rezoning proposal would encourage pedestrians to cross East Market Street and Mount Zion Road — already considered congested, high-volume traffic arteries — which from a safety standpoint would "not be ideal," the planning commission report said.

"It is supposed to be a more pedestrian-friendly design," Shaffer said.

Springettsbury Township supervisor Blanda Nace addresses the York County Planning Commission Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2016, during their meeting.

The proposal calls for rezoning 40 acres of land — separated into parcels already encompassed by the Town Center Overlay or by developing the same area into a town center for shopping — into what is referred to as Commercial Highway. The Town Center Overlay would be expanded by adding up to 41 adjacent parcels, according to the proposal.

Much of the area covered in the proposal is currently designated as either Neighborhood Commercial or High Density Residential, meaning those areas contain residential, office and commercial spaces as well as public utility.

Rezoning the area to Commercial Highway would not be compatible with the surrounding land uses, the commission's report said.

Shaffer said the planning commission is strictly an advisory body, and the final say is up to the township.

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"The municipality has the power to do what they want to do," he said.

Meeting: The county planning commission unanimously voted to approve the staff's recommendation at its Tuesday night meeting.

Blanda Nace, a Springettsbury Township supervisor, spoke at the meeting, saying the proposal was a way to see what could be done in those areas.

Jessica Fieldhouse, community outreach director for the township, said afterward that there will be a public comment session at their next meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 25 at the township building, 1501 Mount Zion Road. The board of supervisors may or may not adopt the ordinance following the comment section.

Staff writer Christopher Dornblaser contributed to this report.

— Reach John Joyce at jjoyce2@yorkdispatch.comor on Twitter @JohnJoyceYD.