North York shoots down zoning change to allow warehouse at former Central York field

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

Residents living near the former Central York High School athletic field won't see a warehouse coming any time soon.

North York officials on Thursday struck down a change in the zoning ordinance that developers needed to build the structure.

Borough council members voted unanimously to oppose amending the current zoning ordinance during a special meeting. 

Poppy Lane Ventures, which sought a change in the zoning ordinance, needed the council's approval to amend the mixed-use district at 1100 Columbia Ave. to allow a light industrial use and permit the construction of warehouses. 

"There's really not a whole lot of explanation," Council President Rick Shank said after the vote. "You've heard the residents, and we've been hearing them loud and clear."

Both residents and officials have said the warehouse could bring an increase in noise, traffic and pollution.

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

The York County Planning Commission also criticized the plan during its Tuesday meeting and voted to oppose the plan. The planning commission's objection is merely an advisory opinion.

“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," commission member Jim Morris said during the meeting. 

Attorney Mieke Driscoll, who represents Poppy Lane Ventures, said the proposed usage of a warehouse is "consistent" with existing uses already allowed in the borough.

"There is a high demand for localized distribution warehousing, which is the kind of warehousing that would fit on this property," Driscoll said. "We're here because we think this text amendment would really have a positive impact on the borough."

Officials estimated annual real estate taxes at the property would be roughly $680,000. 

Local restaurant owner, entrepreneur and Poppy Lane Ventures partner Themistoklis Sacarellos has said the pandemic has amplified the need for these distribution warehouses that are localized and that are near the interstate highways.

"We have tried tirelessly to develop this property," Sacarellos said. 

On Thursday, Driscoll told The York Dispatch that Poppy Lane Ventures respects the actions taken by the council.

Driscoll did not answer further questions about what could come next for the developer team.

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