CLEARFIELD – The Lawrence Township Board of Supervisors postponed making a decision regarding a zoning change in the Turnpike Avenue area. Jim Rishel has been seeking a zoning change to put in buildings for businesses.
The township has 90 days from the May 17 public hearing to make a decision. The requested change would take this area from being zoned as a village to a commercial zone. The only other village zoned area in Lawrence Township is Glenn Richey. Existing businesses, and some homes, currently are grandfathered in.
At the Tuesday night meeting, Rishel stated his intention was to build a building to house a restaurant that has approached him.
Input from residents in the affected area, between Turnpike Avenue and US Route 219 from Krebs Storage to Action graphics, split the board on what action they should take. Supervisors Edward Brown and Glenn Johnston wanted to keep the decision open pending more investigation. Supervisor William Lawhead moved to deny the zoning change immediately after public comments, but the move died without being seconded.
Carole Little protested the zoning change due to two factors. Her first concern was that the business would lead to increased traffic of all vehicle types, including heavy trucks, on Turnpike Avenue as a shortcut to the business. Her second worry was that Rishel might be saying a restaurant was going in today, but once the zoning change was passed a truck depot or transfer station would go instead.
John Inlow, who owns property near where Rishel plans to build, stated he would find himself in the opposite position of Rishel should the zoning change go through.
Rishel explained he lacked the acreage for a trucking facility. According to Rishel, two acres are required.
It was also suggested for Rishel to locate the business up in the commercial park near Lowes. This was countered by stating the commercial park looked pretty, but was not well situated visibility wise for an office or restaurant.
Brown said that a business, even gas related, would benefit the community.
The board plans to pass possible alternatives to a complete zoning change to the planning commission and hoped to vote on whether to approve or deny the zoning change at the July 19 meeting. Alternative plans included giving Rishel an exemption to the zoning or changing what was allowed under villages to include restaurants.
Johnston asked Township Solicitor James Naddeo if granting an exemption would lead to a slippery slope. Naddeo said that an exemption could be seen as spot zoning, but zoning was intended to help keep an area homogenized in character. The stated business plans would fit the de facto character of the area as a fourth of the properties in the zone are businesses.
Naddeo explained that changing the zoning allowances for villages would automatically also affect Glenn Richey if the township goes that route.