State College

College Township considers duplex proposal

A proposal to add duplexes in R-1 single-family zoning was discussed but not yet adopted Thursday by the Township Council.

According to a memo by senior planner Mark Holdren, staff suggested examining the idea as a way to “diversify the housing types built in the township and also potentially allow for more housing to be affordable.” Currently, he said, there are more than 2,600 existing R-1 lots in the township, occupying about 17 percent of the township acreage.

Under the proposed ordinance, he told council, duplexes would be permitted on lots exceeding 2 acres with no more than three dwelling units per acre. Existing structures can’t be converted to duplexes and no more than two duplex units can be owned by the same owner when multiple duplexes are located on a single lot.

There are about 21 vacant lots greater than 2 acres and an additional 33 lots containing an existing single-family home that could be developed with duplexes due to their size exceeding 2 acres, he said. This creates a development potential of about 1,080 dwellings.

The proposal passed with a 6-1 vote by the township Planning Commission, township engineer Kent Baker said, with some members split over allowing duplexes in R-1 zones. The general feeling, he said, was to avoid duplexes next to single family homes, instead favoring groupings of duplexes.

The intention was to make alternate housing available with the same density as R-1. It’s something we would allow in R-1 without approaching the density of R-2.

Kent Baker

Planning Commission member Steve Lyncha, who was in attendance, confirmed Baker’s comments, saying the intent was to open opportunities for duplex developments to be created rather than an infill of duplexes in existing communities.

Duplexes were allowed in R-1 zones until 2003, Holdren said. According to township Manager Adam Brumbaugh, resident concerns related to density and traffic at that time moved the council to remove the use as an “expeditious way” to resolve the situation.

Councilwoman Carla Stilson voiced her concern over a section of the proposal allowing the subdivision of a lot proposed for the development of duplexes, saying it creates the opportunity for a complex-type development of duplexes under a single owner.

“We want to focus on affordable and workforce housing with this,” she said, “and not so much student rentals, which is what a lot of developers around here focus on.”

Council voted unanimously to send the proposal back to the Planning Commission for adjustments.

In other business, council set a Feb. 18 public hearing for a proposal that seeks to add adult day care centers as an approved land use.

The centers give families who care for a senior or disabled adult the option to ensure care of that individual while the family is away at work or school, Holdren said, much like child day care centers.

Adult day care centers are already a permitted use in the village zoning district, he said.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews