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Byler Holdings presented a zoning amendment request at Monday’s Cornwall Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) to allow manufacturing uses in the general industrial zone.
The commission unanimously agreed to pass on the request to Cornwall Borough Council to decide whether it is interested in proceeding with the request.
Byler hopes to lease a portion of the GI zone to local business PRL Industries. If the amendment is passed, Byler Holdings will rescind its previously requested zoning text amendment, and warehousing will no longer be under consideration in GI.
PRL is a submarine part manufacturer based in Cornwall with a secondary location in Lebanon. PRL director of engineering Andrew Oskam estimated that the building would be 75,000-80,000 square feet, with a 35- to 40-foot ceiling.
Oskam said that the site would likely see flatbed truck traffic two to three times a day, with even the heaviest loads fitting on a box truck or flatbed truck. He said the 24-hour/5-day-a-week operation would be relatively quiet due to use of machinery.
He said PRL has been looking to put the manufacturing end of its facility under one roof, and has been looking as far as Hamburg and Harrisburg.
Oskam emphasized that he hopes the amendment is passed as soon as possible, as PRL’s services go toward U.S. submarines and the need for subs is growing.
A Russian nuclear submarine successfully test launched a ballistic missile over the weekend (Business Insider) and Oskam says we need to make sure they don’t catch up.
“The cold war is back; no one wants to say that, but it’s in full force,” said Oskam. “Our biggest enemy right now is time.
“My plea is for everybody to understand it’s important we do our thing here. We do not want to upset the community of Cornwall, we very much like little Cornwall and quiet Cornwall, but please keep the bigger picture in mind; it’s real.”
He said he hopes to get the facility operating within 15 months, a tight schedule and one that requires municipal cooperation.
If the process is overly delayed, he said, PRL may need to look elsewhere. In that event, Mike Swank of Byler Holdings said, they will continue to pursue plans for warehousing on the property.
Planning & zoning chair Raymond Fratini said that, due to set procedure, the hearing board will not make a recommendation as of now. However, when the council meets next week, they may choose to consider the proposal.
If so, a special meeting of P&Z will be held to make a recommendation before coming to a council vote following a public hearing.
Swank noted that feedback from the public has mostly been negative toward warehousing and positive toward the mixed-use development considered for the limited industrial section. He said that development is still being planned.
If the request is granted, the remainder of the GI section will likely continue to be used for rock mining, Swank said.
While feedback from attendees was mixed, P&Z and council member John Karinch said the proposal already has his vote.
“If I had to vote right now, I’d vote yes,” he said.
The commission also unanimously agreed to refer the citizen’s text amendment, which would remove public warehousing as a use from the Limited Industrial district and add it as a permitted conditional use for the general commercial district, to the council for their consideration.
If the council opts to pursue the amendment, it will return to P&Z for their recommendation.
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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