The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing for a proposed ordinance rezoning several properties on North Atherton Street from office commercial to general commercial.
Supervisors agreed on the hearing Tuesday at their regular meeting. The properties, seven in total, lie along the west side of the street between West North Hills Place and Blue Course Drive in front of Northland Center.
According to planning official Maria Tranguch, the ordinance originally recommended for the rezoning of the parcel along Blue Course, and was approved to be rezoned with a 6-1 vote by the Centre Region Planning Commission. The parcel includes the National Penn Bank, a single-family residence and a vacant lot.
The remaining properties along Atherton include a residence and three businesses.
During discussion Tuesday, board Vice Chairman Drew Clemson asked why all the office commercial properties along the west side of Atherton couldn’t be converted to general commercial. He reasoned that since the west side of the street, including the Giant supermarket behind the properties, is already commercial property, it would save time to rezone it all now before more future requests started coming in.
“I don’t want to be so narrow-sighted that we just keep doing piece by piece,” he said.
Attorney Terry Williams, who represents the property owner initially requesting rezoning, said the owner plans on building a restaurant on that parcel.
The parcel is 3.5 acres, he said, but under office commercial zoning, the restaurant would be restricted to 1,200 feet. Office commercial zoning also prohibits outdoor seating and the sale of alcohol, which would also negatively impact development and limit the number of potential restaurants that could occupy the area.
“Logically, it seems that the property is better served by being commercial,” Williams said.
He said he has been reaching out to the owner of the residence west of the bank, but had no other comment.
Williams said he and the property owner did not include the additional Atherton Street properties north of the parcel to be rezoned because he didn’t want to become “entangled in the home on the corner property.”
The corner property, along Atherton and North Hills, is owned by Richard Shore. He said he leases the property on a month to month basis. While his property hasn’t changed much, the area around it has, he said, noting it’s “more of a commercial area.”
Shore said he can’t do much because of the limitations of office commercial zoning, but he thought it was a good idea to rezone the area as general commercial because it would give him more flexibility with planning.
Retired township Supervisor George Pytel said when the Atherton corridor was being planned in the 1980s, the assumption was the area would be commercial.
“If you’re going to (zone the parcel general commercial), make it all commercial,” he said.
Township Manager Mark Kunkle said no date has been set for the public hearing.