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Developer's pitch gets chilly reception in North York Borough

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

A developer in North York fielded questions Tuesday from skeptical residents and borough council members about his plans for the former Central York High School athletic field.

Themistoklis Sacarellos of Poppy Lane Ventures LLC went to the Tuesday, Oct. 8, borough council meeting and asked the council if it would consider allowing him to build a warehouse on the property at 1100 Columbia Ave.

"We see an option, a viable option, in this direction, and we don’t want to ignore it," Sacarellos said.

The field is in the borough's mixed use zone, which allows residential, commercial, industrial and institutional development. It also permits semi-public and miscellaneous uses.

Property containing sports venues at the former Central York High School show signs of disuse Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. Bill Kalina photo

It was unclear to borough officials whether a warehouse would be allowed in that zone.

Councilwoman Vivian Amspacher said she thought the property deed only allowed housing, but Councilman Gary Braham said the deed specified solely that if a housing development were built, it must be only senior housing for adults 55 years of age and older.

The deed did not prohibit other developments, Braham said.

A housing development is still a possibility, Sacarellos said, but he wants to ensure that a warehouse will also be on the table in order to market the property.

Although the term "warehouse" brings to mind a giant distribution center, Sacarellos said, the structure would be about 120,000 square feet and could serve as a tech center, an iPad repair facility or an Amazon distribution center, which he said uses vans, not trucks, for deliveries.

But borough zoning officer Larry Shroyer said a warehouse is only allowed in the mixed use zone if it's an accessory to another primary use.

The borough would have to either amend the zoning ordinance to allow warehouses in a mixed use zone or grant Sacarellos a special exception or a conditional use permit, Shroyer said.

Property containing sports venues at the former Central York High School show signs of disuse Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. Bill Kalina photo

One resident asked Sacarellos how much traffic the project would generate.

"I’d like to defer that question to when we actually have a plan," Sacarellos said. "We can address the traffic at that time, and if it doesn’t work, we wouldn’t be approved anyway."

Jamie Moore, acting council president, then tabled the discussion and suggested the council form a committee to meet with Sacarellos and discuss the plans.

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