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Chester County Press

New Garden nearing sign-off on revised zoning ordinance

05/17/2022 01:59PM ● By Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw

Staff Writer

New Garden Township has moved one step closer to completing an ordinance that when finalized will place guidelines for commercial and residential development along the eastern portion of the Route 41 corridor.

The ordinance, hammered out over the past several months between the township and township planner Tom Comitta, spells out a long-term vision for the Unified Development (UD) Zoning District that begins at its western point at Newark Road, is bordered on the south at Reynolds Road and Southwood Road, includes property just to the north of Route 41 and extends east to Limestone Road to the Delaware border. Linked in principle to the township’s 2018 Comprehensive Plan, it intends to amend the existing subdivision and land development ordinance in order to provide regulations for the UD District and incorporate design and improvement standards.

At the township’s Board of Supervisors meeting on May 16, the board and township Solicitor William Christman took a deeper dive into tightening the ordinance; specifically, whether the list of possible development permitted in the UD District should be designated Use By Right or by Conditional Use.

Defined, Use By Right gives the potential developer the right to use an existing building for the start of a business, or if they have property on which to construct their business, the right to go through the land development process and obtain approvals. Conditional Use requires that certain criteria must be met by a potential developer before approval for development is granted, and gives a municipality the right to impose design and construction standards.

A list of permitted businesses and facilities included in the ordinance – and in the board’s decision-making process -- is a professional, business, executive or administrative office building; financial institutions; sit-down restaurant, café, brew pub, and drive-thru; retail/convenience stores with services such as gasoline pumps; personal service shops; facilities for educational use; nonprofit church or synagogue; fitness center, skating facility, tennis center or other sports facility; public recreation; grocery stores; planned office park; hotels; movie theater; hospital or medical facility; light industrial park; professional, administrative and/or business offices; printing, publishing, lithograph and binding facility; computer center; laboratory for testing scientific research and development; facility used for limited and light industrial use; research and development facility; conference facility, corporate or administrative headquarters; museum; library; intermediate care facility; skilled nursing facility; live performance theatre and marijuana dispensary.

Some of the supervisors weighed in on the benefits of a revised zoning ordinance.

“Instead of getting a million square feet of retail from a regional draw, we have 22 pages in the ordinance imposing design standards that Tom Comitta has worked on for many years that have been incorporated into our ordinance,” said board Chairman Steve Allaband. “I feel that the end product will be a better land development plan than what the township currently has.”

[These revisions to the township’s UD zoning ordinance] do not mean that everybody is going to come here and develop every single thing,” said Vice Chairwoman Kristie Brodowski. “We’re talking about a very small area. We put these ordinances in place to add controls where necessary. I have heard at ton of positive reactions about these zoning changes. This is what people want. They want a grocery store and they don’t want to have to travel far for services, and this opens up the possibility for that.

“It also reduces the barriers to being able to have small businesses in the area, as well.”

Christman said that the revised ordinance would have no impact on the planned development of White Clay Point.

The revisions made to the UD Zoning ordinance on May 16 will be sent to the township’s Planning Commission and included on the Supervisors’ June 20 agenda as a public hearing.

In other township business, the township is in negotiations with the Philadelphia-based law form of Offit Kurman to possibly serve as its special conflict resolution counsel in the finalization of the township’s sale of its wastewater system to Aqua.

The board approved the bid of Long’s Asphalt, Inc. for the paving of Laurel Heights Road, in the amount of $832,025. It also approved a proposal from Visual Sound to upgrade the audio-visual system in the Township Building at an estimated cost of $34,000.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].