STATE COLLEGE — Bicycle racks and parking lots were up for discussion Wednesday as the Planning Commission continued to hammer out the details of a draft ordinance addressing commercial areas.
For months, the panel has worked through the potential change. Staff suggested the commission consider how to regulate primarily commercial uses in the boroughs CP-2 planned commercial district.
The result is a draft CP-3 district, which focuses on neighborhood commercial and mixed uses, such as the current Westerly Parkway and Hamilton Square shopping centers. The areas have been discussed for their redevelopment potential, and new regulations could better address walkability and neighborhood needs.
Wednesdays conversation on the plan will be continued to a future commission meeting, as several members had to leave before the discussion finished. They focused on a memo compiled by planning staffer Meagan Tuttle, which covered previous commission concerns.
The memo included bicycle and vehicle parking in the commercial neighborhood areas.
Tuttle said bike parking was included in the ordinance draft because it is key in encouraging biking as transportation, according to various guidelines.
Commissioner Ron Madrid said the boroughs cycling efforts are wonderful, but that those efforts are greater than the use of bicycle facilities.
Do we put things in for skateboarders or walkers? he asked. We have established bike lanes on a number of thoroughfares. A majority of bikers I see dont use them.
Anita Genger said part of the problem could be a culture that encourages driving. Whatever we can do to help the bikes can only help to right a balance here, she said. The draft ordinance requires bicycle parking spaces per housing unit and mixed-use square footage.
The group also discussed the issue of an appropriate number of vehicle parking spaces, noting previously that Westerly Parkway Plazas parking lot is much larger than necessary. The ordinance includes a line that parking should not exceed the minimum requirement by more than a percentage yet to be determined.
Tuttle offered 10 percent as a figure used in some ordinances. For a parking lot requiring a minimum of 500 spaces, that would allow a range of 500 to 550 spaces.
Jon Eich proposed that, if a developer wants to include more parking than that, he could give something in return, such as improved open space.
Its a trade-off, he said. If you want A, then you give us B.
Commissioner Rich Kalin said the borough should consider why developers are exceeding parking requirements, and acting zoning officer Anne Messner said shes hearing that some developers say they face requirements from lenders, and some believe their units require more spaces.
Tuttle referenced the way parking is handled in other local municipalities. College Township sets a maximum number of spaces for some uses and requires site improvements if that is exceeded.
Tuttle said Patton Townships Colonnade shopping area required the plaza spaces because the developer asked to exceed parking requirements.
Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter