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The Cornwall Borough Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously agreed to recommend that borough council approve three waivers for submarine parts manufacturer PRL’s subdivision plan at its meeting Monday.

Byler Holdings requested to waive the requirement for improving the site’s driveway, as the business expects to only generate one truck’s worth of traffic per day, and limit this traffic to box trucks and flat beds. The commission granted this after some discussion.

Developers also asked the commission to waive requirements to install curbing and sidewalks on the connecting road, which was also granted.

The last waiver concerned the side slopes of the stormwater facilities. Developers plan to landscape a 3:1 slope around them, and this steepness is typically only allowed with fencing. The commission recommended the waiving of the fence requirement, as fences can be counterintuitive to safety.

The submitted plan, located within a 104-acre lot in Byler Holding’s General Industrial tract, includes a 75,000-square-foot building with a maximum height of 45 feet, an adjoined 6,120 square feet of office space, and 61 parking spaces.

These waivers will be considered by the borough council at its meeting next Monday.

The commission heard concerns from the Community Fire Company of Cornwall Borough’s chief Mark Miller, who said the 75,000-square-foot building plan neither includes sprinklers nor a water source for firefighters to pull from in case of emergency, with the closest fire hydrant located in Miners Village.

He also said firefighters would encounter difficulties if a fire broke out on the site, which he noted is a possibility with equipment including mechanized grinders letting off sparks.

While commission chair Ray Fratini acknowledged his concerns, he said the commission doesn’t have the power to decline the plan based on this, as it falls outside the scope of borough zoning ordinances. He suggested Byler Holdings request Commonwealth Code’s opinion.

Miller further voiced his grievances with the commission, noting that the fire company had not been consulted while the commission and council fast-tracked the PRL amendment earlier this year. Fratini said he is willing to involve Miller in conversations about upcoming developments in Cornwall.

The commission also heard an update on the Rexmont Road subdivision. Three homes in the 131-home subdivision were shifted up so over half the homes are located in residential-1 zoning, thus not requiring the special exception that was denied by council.

Byler Holdings representative Mike Swank said that while they are still working through the engineer’s comments, they hope to push the preliminary/final plan through for approval at next month’s commission meeting.

They also discussed the Lake Resort Community text amendment. Borough engineer Josh Weaber said the amendment seems to cover similar ground as the existing mixed use overlay zoning description.

Weaber asked if Byler Holdings would be interested in requesting an amendment to the mixed-use overlay rather than create a new amendment. Swank said borough solicitor Josele Cleary recommended the route of a new amendment.

Mike Swank gestures to a tentative plan for Byler’s lakefront development.

Fratini asked Swank to consider those options, to discuss more in detail at future commission meetings.

The commission also reviewed a newly submitted subdivision plan for 12 townhouses at the 3.03-acre 334 Rexmont Road.

The subdivision plan, titled Rexmont Ridge, includes three groups of four adjacent homes, each with a backyard behind the house. The largest lot size is .7699 acres, with most other lots totalling around either .13 or .22 acres.

The first group of houses shares a driveway (to avoid traffic concerns with the adjacent intersection) with the other homes having individual sidewalks. The subdivision plan also includes trees to be placed along Rexmont Road.

The plan is still under review by the borough engineer and will be reviewed by the commission at a later time.

In case you missed it… Background on this story

In July 2022, Byler Holdings requested a zoning amendment from the borough allowing them to build an 800,000-square-foot warehouse in their general industrial (GI) tract.

The alternative, they said, was for them to use their limited industrial (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 opposition to warehousing on the site largely due to the traffic and noise.

A community group Cornwall 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 Planning and Zoning Commission 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 an amendment due to community outcry, Swank said. The developer reversed this request later, after members of the community appeared equally opposed to the plan for smaller warehouses in the LI tract.

In September 2023, Byler Holdings asked if council was willing to consider the 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 meetings until an internal decision was made.

At around the same time, Cornwall 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 to 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 said at the time that if the 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 said also has about 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. 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

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

Byler Holdings has also submitted a plan for residential development in residential low-density and conservation recreation. The plan includes 131 single-family detached homes, constructed over three phases.

The borough has provided comments to Byler Holdings surrounding the development, which it is still working through.

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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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