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What does the Patton Crossing development vote actually mean?

How did the Patton Township supervisors vote on a Patton Crossing ordinance?

A public hearing was held on a zoning ordinance proposal for the planned Patton Crossing development in Patton Township. Residents gave mixed views on the development, with about even numbers for and against it.
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A public hearing was held on a zoning ordinance proposal for the planned Patton Crossing development in Patton Township. Residents gave mixed views on the development, with about even numbers for and against it.

The status of the proposed Patton Crossing development is up in the air.

After listening to the concerns of dozens of community members during Wednesday’s three-hour public hearing, the Patton Township Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 against the current version of a proposed ordinance to rezone the property for a mix of commercial and residential use.

The development would go in along 1752 N. Atherton St., the location of the former Penn State Mobile Home Park, according to development plans. The property was purchased in 2012, and the park closed in 2013.

Most of the land is zoned R-3 (medium density residential), except for the front 200 feet along North Atherton that is zoned C-1 general commercial, as previously reported. The developer, North Atherton Street Associates, wants the property to be rezoned with a mixed-use overlay that would permit commercial, office, hotel and residential uses for the entire roughly 28 acres.

However, several supervisors — Elliot Abrams, Dan Trevino and Betsy Whitman — had concerns with aspects of the ordinance, such as the development’s density and the number of affordable housing units. Supervisors George Downsbrough and Jessica Buckland voted to approve the ordinance in its current form.

The proposed zoning required 5 percent (15-18 units) of the about 350 residential units to be affordable housing. Many in attendance and the supervisors seemed to agree that the affordable housing should be increased, possibly up to 10 percent.

Several people weren't comfortable with the high density of the development, the amount of impervious coverage and how traffic in the surrounding area would be affected.

Bob Poole, of North Atherton Street Associates, said that making all of the changes to the ordinance that were requested might be “too complicated for us” and that they may “withdraw consideration.”

“I think what we tried to do was to do something important for the community, and we actually really do care,” Poole said.

He said they, “don’t want to be the bad guys.”

If the property isn't rezoned, the Patton Crossing development as it's currently planned wouldn't be feasible.

The supervisors will continue to discuss the matter at their next board meeting on May 23 and will likely work to develop a new ordinance, township manager Doug Erickson said. Another public hearing would have to be scheduled if a new ordinance is created, which would occur at the end of June at the earliest.

Other concerns from community members included losing the Park Forest neighborhood's character, less green space, increased traffic congestion and the height of the buildings.

However, about half of those who spoke during the public hearing were supportive of Patton Crossing, saying the urban-style development would attract more people to live and work in the township.

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