Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
City weighs changes to zoning ordinance
nWould remove some manufacturing designations and encourage construction of new homes. BY BERNARD HARRIS, Staff Writer
When the city last adopted a zoning ordinance 17 years ago, the Lancaster Stockyards was a dilapidated collection of animal pens, Clipper Magazine Stadium didn't exist and "for sale" signs were a common sight in the city.
Changes being proposed to the city zoning law reflect a new reality.
The stockyards is being redeveloped with high-tech office buildings.
The eastern portion of the Dillerville rail yard is being redeveloped by Franklin & Marshall College and Lancaster General Hospital.
And city living is a desirable option for both empty-nesters and young professionals.
At a public meeting Wednesday, proposed changes were shown that would remove manufacturing designations from the stockyards and stadium areas and encourage construction of new homes.
About 14 people attended the meeting, most of whom were city officials or serve on the city's Zoning Hearing Board or Planning Commission, where the proposals were vetted.
A formal draft process is scheduled to begin in the spring, with a new ordinance expected to be presented to City Council for adoption in the summer. The public will have opportunities to comment during that process.
"There are a lot of changes that we have proposed and, hopefully, will be allowed by council, but nothing drastic from our existing ordinance," Walt Siderio, the city zoning officer, said.
The only proposal that was questioned was one that would allow three unrelated people -- up from two -- to live in a home in most parts of the city.
Young professionals, just starting their careers and laden with college debt, are looking for affordable housing, said Randy Patterson, city director of Economic Development & Neighborhood Revitalization.
The change would allow more people to share homes and the cost, he said.
Patterson also said empty-nesters might want to offer an unused bedroom to a friend.
Jack Tracy, of Hamilton Street, wanted to know how the change would affect his northeast city neighborhood.
"I still have concerns with too many people in an area," Tracy said.
"When you have more people, you have more problems."
Patterson responded that even if it is three unrelated people, rather than two, the home still must be owner-occupied and two off-street parking spaces are still required for "non-family units."
Paula Jackson, bureau chief of city planning, said there are no restrictions on the number of people or their vehicles in a family residence.
Jackson said her neighbor in the southwest part of the city has 12 people living in the home and they have six vehicles, which is allowed under the law.
Charlie Schmehl, of Urban Research and Development Corp., the Bethlehem-based consultant helping to draft the city proposal, said zoning ordinances in most communities across the nation allow three or four unrelated people to share homes.
"There are a lot of changes that we have proposed and, hopefully, will be allowed by council, but nothing drastic from our existing ordinance."
Walt Siderio, city zoning officer