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At Monday’s meeting, Cornwall Borough Council informally indicated to Byler Holdings that it is open to considering a zoning text amendment.
If passed, this amendment would allow Byler Holdings to construct a warehouse of around 800,000 square feet on land currently zoned for general industrial use. Other limited industrial uses would also be permitted on the property.
The amendment is not needed for Byler Holdings to build a warehouse on other portions of the property, which are zoned limited industrial and allow 400,000-square-feet of warehouse space by right.
Council did not take any official action, but in a roll call vote, president Bruce Harris, vice president Bruce Conrad, pro tem Ron Ricard, and member John Karinch indicated that they would be willing to consider the amendment.
Council members Thomas Burton and Beth Yocum both indicated that they would not consider it. Member Al Brandt was not present at Monday’s meeting.
The council is under no legal obligation to pass the amendment, but they agreed to direct the ad hoc committee formed last year to begin discussions, which will likely begin in mid-October.
The committee includes members of the public, council members, and members of the P&Z board. It met last December, but due to lack of direction and information, paused meetings until now.
Byler Holdings sought direction from the board so they can work on development plans. Byler is legally entitled to develop the property regardless of whether this amendment is passed, but it could significantly change the direction.
Last year, Byler Holdings presented two scenarios, detailed in LebTown coverage at the time.
In Scenario #1, which will be pursued if the amendment is not passed, the limited industrial land will be used for several warehouses totaling around 700,000 square feet.
No specific plans have been made for the general industrial land, but it could be used for a rock-crushing plant, asphalt plant, concrete plant, or more.
These uses (including the smaller warehouses) are all guaranteed by right, meaning that the borough could not legally deny any of these uses, as long as land development plans properly follow the code of ordinances.
However, Byler Holdings seeks a zoning amendment to be able to develop a large warehouse in the general industrial zone and, down the line, consider developing housing in the now-limited industrial zone.
Conceptual plans have been shown, but no land development plans have been submitted. If an amendment is passed, developers would not be legally bound to any specific plan or use.
Last year, Byler Holdings sent the borough a letter withdrawing the request for a text amendment.
Byler’s representative said that this was done in response to the outcry from the community about Scenario #2.
However, he said, when they began work on plans for Scenario #1, they met similar backlash, with some members of the public preferring Scenario #2.
The consensus from members of the council willing to entertain the amendment is that they would like to attempt to reach an agreement with Byler Holdings that provides the best possible outcome for Cornwall residents.
Cornwall solicitor Josele Cleary said that while the borough cannot place additional conditions on rezoning or text amendments, the developer can voluntarily enter into a legally binding agreement to follow certain conditions while developing.
This is how the previous developer, H&K, established conditions in collaboration with the ad hoc committee in 2003. Byler Holdings expressed willingness to do something similar.
An agreement may take months or longer to develop, depending on negotiations. If negotiations fail, the council may elect not to pass any zoning amendments.
Ad hoc meetings will be open to the public, though they may or may not allow public comment.
Prior to any amendments being passed, the council will hold a public hearing in a venue spacious enough for many attendees.
Cornwall Borough Council meets the second Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. These meetings are open to the public and do not require prior registration.
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