EDITORIAL: Speak up on Springetts rezoning
- Township officials are not letting go of the idea to rezone the area.
- Residents concerned about quality of life need to speak up in greater numbers.
Fewer than 20 people showed up for a Thursday meeting to hear the latest plans to rezone an area of Springettsbury Township near the intersection of East Market Street and Mount Zion Road.
It’s the third plan in about two years to change the zoning around that already-busy intersection from neighborhood commercial to another designation that would allow for more businesses.
Twice before, the York County Planning Commission reviewed plans, one presented in 2015 and another last year, and recommended the township reject them, citing, among other reasons, their incompatibility with the surrounding neighborhood.
In 2015, developer Spring Lane LLC presented a plan to rezone 12.5 acres on the northeast corner of East Market Street and Mount Zion Road so it could build a new shopping area. That plan included tearing down the Modernaire Motel and the Bloomingdale house.
In advising against it, the county planners — whose role is entirely advisory — noted the plan wouldn’t work for the neighborhood and the area isn't prepared to deal with the traffic headaches a shopping center would bring.
Last summer, the county planning commission again rejected a rezoning proposal — this one made by township officials, not a developer — saying the new plan also was inconsistent with the township's comprehensive plan and not compatible with the surrounding neighborhood and that the area isn't prepared to deal with the traffic headaches.
According to the planning commission's staff report, rezoning the parcels as requested would have conflicted with the pre-existing future land use section of the township’s Comprehensive Plan for developing a town center in that same area.
The proposal also would have impacted the zoning designations of surrounding residential and commercial areas by making them nonconforming with their present zoning designations.
But township officials are not giving up.
Last week, at a joint meeting of the supervisors and the township planning commission, township officials again presented their own proposal for rezoning the area, this time a plan that would change 13 parcels from neighborhood commercial to mixed use with a town center overlay.
This one also will be forwarded to the county planning commission for review. If this one also would disrupt the neighborhood, we hope the county again gives it a thumbs down.
Jessica Fieldhouse, director of community outreach for Springettsbury Township, introduced the latest proposal at last week’s sparsely attended meeting, saying the proposed rezoning will allow a greater amount of retail services in the location.
"Mixed use will give market forces the opportunity to see what will work there," she said.
We suggest the township should be more concerned about what works for the people who already live, work and play in that area. And those decisions have already been made and included in the township’s comprehensive plan.
If it’s all about market forces, why have any zoning at all? Why not let everyone do whatever they can to make a buck — quality of life for everyone else be damned?
The takeaway for township residents is that their elected officials are not letting this go. The latest proposal will be discussed at a public hearing during a Feb. 23 meeting, where the board of supervisors could potentially vote on the rezoning.
Let’s hope more than a handful of residents show up and speak out.