EDITORIAL: Don't rezone — reuse

York Dispatch

A developer's plan to raze the Modernaire Motel in Springettsbury Township to make way for a new shopping center is running into resistance.

Historic York Inc. recently weighed in, saying the building at the intersection of East Market Street and Mount Zion Road is one of the few remaining local examples of Art Moderne architecture and should be preserved.

Well ... it's definitely unique.

But there's more reason to oppose this project than to preserve a quirky building.

As the York County Planning Commission noted last week, the project is not consistent with the township's comprehensive plan, it's not compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, and the area isn't prepared to deal with the traffic headaches a shopping center would bring.

The commission voted 5-0 to reject Spring Lane LLC's request to rezone the 12.5 acres from neighborhood commercial to highway commercial.

Of course, the county planning commission's role is advisory, and Springettsbury Township's community development department and board of supervisors are free to ignore that advice.

We hope that doesn't happen.

If township officials need another reason to reject the plan, they should look from their municipal building across the street toward the York Galleria mall, where 12 percent of the stores are vacant and foot traffic is down since JC Penney closed its doors earlier this year.

They don't need to shred zoning rules and upend a neighborhood to create new retail space. They need to encourage sorely needed renovation of the biggest existing retail property in the township.

That's what's happening across town at the former West Manchester Mall. That shopping center once was a ghost town, but now it's literally being turned inside out as it morphs into the attractive West Manchester Town Center.

So maybe "Save the Modernaire" isn't the best rallying cry in this case.

How about "Save the Galleria"?