MeKelvey Urges Supervisors to Amend Commercial Zoning Ordinance

East Franklin Supervisors Barry Peters and David Stewart agreed to begin procedures to change a commercial zoning ordinance that restricts the size of a retail building. Supervisor Dan Goldinger was not present at the meeting due to a medical issue.

Supervisors in East Franklin Township agreed to pursue an amendment to their zoning ordinance on how large of a building a business can build.

Retail businesses in the Commercial 1 zone of East Franklin Township are limited to 5,000 square feet, according to an ordinance established years ago.

At last night’s public meeting, Zoning Officer Greg McKelvey urged East Franklin Township supervisors to consider amending the ordinance, saying it is too restrictive.

Commercial 1 zones are most business districts outside of Franklin Village and Hilltop Plaza, which are in the Commercial 2 zone. C-2 zones are permitted to build larger facilities.

               McKelvey

McKelvey said there has been interest in villages such as Adrian and Cowansville in retail establishments wanting to have buildings larger than 5,000 square feet.

“I have conversations with potential businesses a lot,” McKelvey said. “We don’t want to restrict them to having to just locate within the C-2 areas if they need more space.

McKelvey said he was specifically proposing to permit a retail store to go to at least 10,000 square feet – double of the current ordinance – but would really like to go even further.

“I would really like to see us take off the limits and let the business decide,” McKelvey said.

Supervisor Chair Barry Peters said he was in favor of leaving the ordinance “open-ended” if the Solicitor, Ty Heller, felt it was legally possible.

McKelvey said that over the years, amendments have needed to be changed because technology and businesses have changed their structure.

“I have reviewed our ordinances since 2008. One of the first changes we had to make is with regards to digital signage. At that time, technology was a running single line scroll on a digital sign. That sign was limited to no more than 24 square feet. It didn’t take long until technology increased, and now we have a half-dozen of them that are 48 square feet, and we will probably talk about going bigger than that in the future. You pigeon-hole yourself in when you set a specific number. So I would like to take off the limits and grow business within the township.”

The supervisors will now draw up the amendment with the assistance of the Township Planning Commission. The amendment will need advertised and a public hearing will be held before the supervisors can vote on the adoption of the amendment. The next step will take place following a discussion with the solicitor, Peters said.