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The Cornwall Borough Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously agreed to distribute the Lake Resort Community Text Amendment, recently submitted by Cornwall Properties, to the public at its meeting Monday, Feb. 5.

The planning commission convenes Monday, Feb. 5. (Emily Bixler)

The amendment is now available on the website (PDF), and the borough manager plans to print hard copies available for distribution at the borough building.

The proposed amendment modifies the limited industrial (LI) permitted uses to include lake resort communities. This type of community is defined as follows:

“Lake resort community – A use and a form of integrated and cohesive mixed-use development adjacent to a lake that serves as the primary attraction or focal point and includes housing, lodging, dining, leisure time, recreation, entertainment or educational uses, activities and amenities, as well as other complementary and compatible uses, which is planned, designed and constructed based on an overall site development master plan.”

The around 400 acre Byler property is located by the open pit. It is the only parcel of land in Cornwall with an LI tract large enough to host a lake resort community based on these criteria.

Drone footage of the site by Will Trostel.

The amendment also includes the following conditions on lake resort community developments:

  • Minimum area of 50 gross acres of one or more contiguous lots.
  • Minimum 250-foot frontage along a major road and 250 feet abutting along the lake.
  • Must be served by public water and sewer.
  • At least 20 percent of the parcel must be reserved as a permanent open space.
  • May be “subdivided or developed as a planned community or condominium for separate ownership or lease.”

Lake resort community permitted housing uses range significantly, including detached, semidetached, and attached single-family and two-family dwellings, apartment dwellings, and group family dwellings.

Lot and yard requirements for various dwelling types in the proposed ordinance. (PDF)

Other permitted uses include community groups, churches, parks, municipal uses, hotels, wellness centers, theaters, water recreational uses, restaurants and retail businesses, offices, forestry activities, day-care centers, and more.

Mixed uses within a building or lot are permitted.

The amendment requires the developer of a lake resort community to submit a conceptual master plan, to be reviewed by the planning commission and council.

Commission chairman Ray Fratini updated attendees on the status of the Cornwall Properties Rexmont Road subdivision plan at Monday’s meeting.

The planned development, lying 80 percent in residential low density and 20 percent in conservation recreation, includes 131 single-family detached homes constructed over three phases.

Rexmont Road Subdivision Plan.

The first phase is planned to contain 40 units, the second 52 units, and the third 39 units.

Rexmont Road Subdivision Plan.

It was first submitted to the commission in December, which then gave Cornwall Properties comments on possible concerns.

Read More: Planning commission advances zoning change fast-tracked for PRL Industries

Fratini said Monday that Cornwall Properties is still reviewing the comments. However, he warned that it will be difficult to resolve traffic concerns surrounding the property, accessed through privately owned Iron Valley Drive and Rexmont Road.

“What upsets me is where the traffic’s going,” said Fratini. “Rexmont Road itself is a narrow, windy little road that goes back down into the furnace. The roads were never built to take this amount of traffic in that little area.”

The commission will likely discuss both of these topics in more depth at its next meeting March 4, at which time it will also establish a procedure for receiving public comment.

This comes after Cornwall Borough Council adopted Cornwall Properties’ Ordinance #1-2023, allowing manufacturing as a permitted use in the general industrial (GI) district and removing it from the LI district.

Read More: Cornwall council unanimously adopts adopts Byler manufacturing amendment

In case you missed it… Background on this story

In July 2022, Byler Holdings requested a zoning text amendment from the borough that would allow them to construct an 800,000-square-foot warehouse in their GI tract.

The alternative, they said, was for them to use their LI tract to construct warehouses with a combined square footage of around 700,000.

Read More: Cornwall Borough Council hears concept plans from Byler Holdings, one including a nearly 800,000-square-foot warehouse [2022]

This plan drew significant concern from many Cornwall residents, with themes of opposition to warehousing on the site largely due to the traffic and noise generated by warehouses.

A community group Citizens United 4 Responsible Development, headed by Jeremy Zimmerman, soon emerged in opposition to warehousing on the site.

Council formed an ad hoc committee made up of members of the community, council, and P&Z to work with Byler Holdings on developing conditions for zoning changes (similar as was done for H&K, the previous owner of the property) or otherwise working with the developer to find a mutually agreeable solution.

Read More: Cornwall Borough Council forms ad hoc committee to work with Byler Holdings

Ad hoc discussions did not go far, as they did not have a clear direction and Byler had not submitted plans for the property. Meetings were paused until further directives were given.

Byler Holdings sent the borough a letter withdrawing its request for a text amendment due to community outcry, Swank said.

The developer reversed this request later, as they found that members of the community appeared equally opposed to the plan for smaller warehouses in the LI tract.

In September 2023, Byler Holdings came before council to ask if council was willing to consider the text amendment submitted the year before. In an informal roll call, the majority of council members indicated willingness to consider it.

Read More: Cornwall Borough Council to consider Byler text amendment

Council and Byler Holdings agreed to resume meetings of the ad hoc committee to work out conditions.

However, Byler Holdings later requested that council hold off on scheduling ad hoc committee meetings while an internal decision was made.

At around the same time, Citizens United came forward with a zoning text amendment of their own which would remove “public warehousing” as an LI permitted use and add it as a general commercial permitted conditional use.

Read More: Cornwall Borough Council refers citizen’s text amendment to ad hoc committee

This amendment was referred to the ad hoc committee, and has since been referred to P&Z for evaluation and recommendations.

In November, Byler’s attorney Mike Swank returned before council to submit a new zoning amendment; one that would morph into the ordinance adopted Tuesday.

Read More: Cornwall to consider Byler zoning amendment, expects January decision

The proposed amendment would allow manufacturing uses in Cornwall GI zones, with Byler’s property containing the only GI plot in the borough.

Swank expressed at that time that if this amendment was passed, Byler Holdings would retract its previous zoning amendment request.

However, council had to move quickly, as Byler hoped to rent to Cornwall-based submarine part-manufacturer PRL Industries, who was on a tight timeline.

PRL Industries plans to enter a 20-year minimum lease for around 10 acres of the 104-acre tract, which Swank previously said also has around 60 undevelopable acres. Traffic would mostly be limited to one flatbed truck entering and exiting a few times a day, PRL director of sales and marketing Tim Lewis said.

As the U.S. is in the process of greatly expanding its submarine production, PRL is under a tight timeline as one of the top parts producers in the country to up its production.

Council agreed to expedite the process, sending the amendment to P&Z and Lebanon County Planning with the goal to hold a hearing and choose to adopt or not adopt the amendment in January 2024.

P&Z discussed details of the amendment and made some changes before referring it back to council.

Read More: Planning commission advances zoning change fast-tracked for PRL Industries

Byler Holdings has also submitted a plan for residential development in Residential Low Density and Conservation Recreation that has yet to be reviewed by the planning commission. The plan includes 131 single-family detached homes, constructed over three phases.

Council unanimously agreed to schedule a public hearing for the amendment at its reorganization meeting Jan. 2, where it would then be adopted with changes.

Read More: Cornwall Borough Council schedules public hearing for Byler amendment

As this amendment was expedited, further amendments for the tract will be taken under consideration by P&Z and/or council as the year progresses.

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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Emily Bixler was born and raised in Lebanon and now reports on local government. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and going for hikes.


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