BV Zoning Proposal and Planning Commision Recommenation
On October 17, the West Vincent Township Planning Commission was presented with a set of proposed revisions to the Township Zoning Ordinances. Among them was a proposed change to make “professional office" the only allowed commercial use in the Birchrunville Village (BV) Zoning District. These changes are posted on the township web site.
Township Manager Jim Wendelgass attended the meeting and described the process by which zoning changes are proposed and implemented. He confirmed that they are originated by the Township Manager based upon consultation with the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission. The changes are first presented to the Planning Commision before they are presented to the Board of Supervisors.
The timing of this proposal to change BV zoning was notable given that it was offered at the same time that a Conditional Use Hearing was underway for a proposed professional office building at the Birchrunville Schoolhouse.
Because of the attention attracted by the Conditional Use Hearing, Planning Commission Chairman George Martin was adamant that they not make any recommendation on these changes until there had been a full discussion in the community. He went on to recommend that the proposed changes be publicized and added to the the agenda for discussion at the next meeting scheduled for November 21. At the same meeting, Jim Wendelgass indicated that this seemed to be a reasonable request.
November 11th - Board of Supervisors Meeting
The West Vincent Township Board of Supervisors met on November 11 for a regularly scheduled meeting. At that meeting and in apparent contradiction to his position on October 17th, Jim Wendelgass requested that the BV zoning changes be included with a number of other changes that were to be advertised for adoption. When asked about the Planning Commission's recommendation, he noted that their opinion was strictly advisory -- giving them 45 days notice was all that was legally required. After several objections from the audience and discussion, the Board decided to remove the BV zoning changes from the advertisement.
We don’t understand the apparent desired haste to adopt the BV zoning changes. During the discussion, Chairman Ken Miller intimated that the proposed BV zoning change was requested by residents. Yet, in all of our meetings and HBNA group communications over the past several months, not once has someone brought this up to us. Furthermore, the proposed change makes no sense in the context of what is going on with the Schoolhouse (i.e. objections to office building development results in office buildings being the only allowed form of commercial development!).
November 21 - Planning Comission Meeting
The West Vincent Township Planning Commission met on November 21 and opened a discussion on the proposed changes to the BV Zoning District.
There were many comments from the audience, all in opposition, and none in favor of the change. Commentary was primarily centered amongst the following key points:
At the close of discussion, the Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the Board of Supervisors not move forward with the proposed change to the BV Zoning District.
November 25 - Board of Supervisors Meeting
Although the Planning Commission recommendation is not binding, Board of Supervisors Chairman Ken Miller attended the meeting and was able to hear without a doubt that a zoning change was not desired.
At the November 25 Board of Supervisors meeting, there was a further discussion of these changes and some apparent confusion regarding Commonwealth Act 247 and the Municipal Planning Code.
This prompted Township Manager Jim Wendelgass to prepare and read a statement on December 9th to clarify his position.