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At Monday’s meeting, Cornwall Borough Council unanimously agreed to send the zoning amendment request submitted by Byler Holdings to the Planning and Zoning Commission and Lebanon County Planning.
After recommendations are made from both groups (which may take up to 45 days) and a public hearing is held, the request will come to a decision by the council.
If passed, the amendment would allow manufacturing uses in general industrial (GI) zones throughout Cornwall. However, the plot on Byler’s property is the only GI zone in the borough.
Byler representatives first unveiled the plan at last week’s P&Z meeting, where it was passed to council for them to offer direction going forward.
Byler Holdings hopes to rent around one-tenth of the GI section to PRL Industries, a Cornwall-based business that manufactures submarine parts.
Due to increased demand for their products as the U.S. hopes to triple submarine production by 2029, PRL urged council to expedite the process as much as possible. If the amendment is not passed by January, they said, they may need to look elsewhere.
PRL director of sales and marketing Tim Lewis emphasized that the plant will be a quiet operation and create a relatively small amount of traffic. He expects traffic to be mostly limited to one flatbed truck entering and exiting only a few times a day.
“We’ve been good partners to the community since the early ’60s,” Lewis said. “We’re mindful of the impact on the community and we want to minimize that.”
Some members of the community have expressed support for this amendment, considering it an upgrade from the previously proposed warehouse plans.
However, others are concerned what the amendment could open up in terms of development.
Byler representative Mike Swank said that if the amendment is passed, Byler Holdings will mine stone on the remainder of the GI plot until the area is no longer mineable. At that point, other uses for the land may be considered.
Resident Julie Bowman, member of citizen’s group Cornwall United, said she feared the amendment may be a “Trojan horse” for Byler to develop more manufacturing on the property.
With regards to the rest of the property, Swank said Byler Holdings still hopes to go forward with a mixed-use development for the limited industrial (LI) section, including housing, hotels, and some commercial areas.
P&Z will likely hold one or more special meetings in the next few weeks to develop a recommendation for the council. Council hopes to make a decision regarding the amendment in January.
Council also referred the Cornwall United 4 Responsible Development text amendment to P&Z for its recommendation. The amendment seeks to remove “public warehousing” as a permitted use for LI and add it as a permitted conditional use for the general commercial district.
In other news, the council:
- Unanimously approved the preliminary 2024 budget, which sees no tax increases.
- Announced that the borough will accept letters of interest for a vacant council slot, as former councilman Al Brandt has moved out of the borough.
- Unanimously agreed to grant a stormwater exemption to Tony’s Mining Co. under the recommendation of P&Z.
- Unanimously agreed to replace a 1996 International vehicle, at an estimated (budgeted) cost of $180,000 to 185,000.
- Unanimously agreed to update water rules and regulations.
- Unanimously agreed to authorize the 2024-26 police contract, including an 8 percent raise for officers in 2024 and 4.5 percent increases in 2025 and 2026.
- Approved the fire company budget at $172,000 following discussion about a stipend offered to volunteers. Thomas Burton opposed.
- Chose township manager Cody Rhoads, P&Z chair Ray Frattini, and councilman Bruce Conrad as representatives to the regional comprehensive plan committee.
- Unanimously approved minutes and reports.
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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