State College

Shiloh Road rezoning raises water issues for College Township Council

College Township board is discussing the rezoning of the properties around Shiloh Road.
College Township board is discussing the rezoning of the properties around Shiloh Road. CDT photo

Township Council took no action Thursday on a proposal to rezone a handful of properties along Shiloh Road, but will be asking the Planning Commission and the township water authority to re-examine the proposal in the context of certain concerns.

Council examined the issue last month, settling on a proposal that would see about 100 acres of property rezoned from agricultural into three different classifications — general commercial C-1, which offers a range of retail, service and office uses; two-family residential R-2, creating moderately dense residential development; and planned research business district, which provides for research, engineering and office uses as well as commercial uses in a business park setting, similar to Innovation Park at Penn State.

The idea of rezoning the area is not a new one, senior planner Mark Holdren said. In 2006, the Shiloh Road Steering Committee had recommended that one of the properties be rezoned to traditional neighborhood development. This would allow for some commercial enterprises along with residential dwellings.

The idea was scrapped when it was realized that the residential area would be incompatible with neighboring Benner Township’s zoning of general commercial, he said. Recent odor issues from the University Area Joint Authority have also created a push for less residential development in that area.

The primary concern now deals with the effect development could have on the adjacent Rogers Well, which sits near the intersection of Shiloh and Trout Road. According to a report by the College Township Water Authority, the well is protected under source water protection zones, with the most restrictive protections in the immediate 400 feet around the well.

The well is also located in an area susceptible to sinkholes, a report by Entech Engineering said. A drainage ditch heading north from the well is composed of highly permeable Nolin soils and could be suseptible to contamination.

The Entech report recommended against any rezoning unless noxious uses can be specifically restricted.

College Township Water Authority member Don Hartzell said it unanimously recommends that the zoning remain unchanged, saying if the well were to become contaminated, it could cost up to $4 million to correct it.

“I have no idea what impact that would be on everybody’s water bill,” he said.

A storage tank ordinance prohibits the storage of chemicals within 100 feet of a well head and 250 feet of Nolin soils, Holdren said. The area sits in a wellhead protection overlay district, which also prohibits junkyards, storage of waste, quarries and limits the application of pesticides.

Staff still recommended rezoning, he said, saying it would diversify the area. Issues related to stormwater and sinkholes could likely be mitigated by development.

Additional protections could be added, he said, such as expanding the wellhead protection district to cover the Nolin soil areas.

There’s nothing in the proposal that adds any additional risk, Brumbaugh said. The township will plan for contingencies and respond appropriately.

Council agreed to remand the plan back to the Planning Commission and water authority with the direction of examining it under the context of the potential water issues.