York County planning officials oppose North York warehouse project

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

A developer's proposal to build a warehouse at the former Central York High School athletic field was met Tuesday with criticism and resistance from the York County Planning Commission.

The mixed-use land, located at 1100 Columbia Ave. in North York, would require an amended zoning ordinance to permit warehousing. Commission members criticized the intent of the proposal, submitted by Poppy Lane Ventures, and voted unanimously to oppose the plan.

“I really feel that shoehorning a light industrial use into the mixed-use district doesn’t make sense and that we should follow staff recommendations to not adopt it," said commission member Jim Morris.

The county commission's objection is merely an advisory opinion and does not doom the project. 

Poppy Lane's proposal will now go to North York Borough Council for potential approval. That meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday on Zoom. 

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

Log in information would be made available at www.northyorkborough.com, officials said. 

When reached for comment Wednesday, Mieke Driscoll, an attorney representing Poppy Lane Ventures declined comment. 

On Tuesday, Driscoll said the demand for warehousing has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Themistoklis Sacarellos, a partner with Poppy Lane Ventures, said previous attempts to develop the land for a residential complex have been futile.

When Central York School District sold the property to Poppy Lane ventures in 2014, the deed specified that if a housing development were built, it must be only senior housing for adults 55 years of age and older.

During Tuesday's meeting, commission members Mary Coble and Morris both raised concerns for how altering the mixed-use zone to include warehousing would affect other mixed-use areas of North York borough. 

More:North York vote could decide fate of former Central York High School athletic field

More:Developer's pitch gets chilly reception in North York Borough

“When you’re talking about changing the zone this way... we have to also remember that this is going to allow warehousing in this site but also in the one below it," Coble said. "So it could be twice as impactful."

North York residents also chimed in with concerns for how a potential warehouse could affect the nearby environment and contribute to noise and traffic, including resident Rachel Stahlman who lives near the former athletic field.

“The elephant in the room is the impact to the environment," Stahlman said. “The Codorus Creek is an impaired stream of York County. Building a building of this size in that area would be very detrimental to the creek.”

Five other residents who could not attend Tuesday's Zoom meeting submitted a written letter  to the York County Planning Commission detailing their concerns.

The letter included worries for an increase in truck traffic and noise. 

Other points noted that a nearby warehouse could negatively affect their properties from a financial standpoint.

“Needless to say the property value of our homes will decrease significantly," the letter reads. "We will never be able to sell our houses as no one wants to live across the street from a trucking warehouse — including us."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.