Institutional Zoning Is Delayed

Posted: May 24, 1987

While nearly everyone - commissioners, planners and representative of local institutions - agreed that an institutional zoning ordinance would be beneficial in Abington Township, action has been delayed for at least three to four months.

At a public hearing Thursday, the township commissioners voted unanimously to have the township planning commission present a final draft of a proposed institutional zoning ordinance at a continuation of the hearing scheduled for Aug. 13.

On May 14, the planning commission recommended amendments to the draft ordinance issued by the township commissioners in February. Planning board members said revisions were needed to better meet the needs of institutions and to include cemeteries and firehouses, which were excluded from the document.

The township officials said creating an institutional zoning ordinance would give the township better control of land and buildings used by schools, hospitals, libraries, churches, day-care centers and many other facilities that are considered non-commercial.

Planning commission member David Narkiewicz on Thursday read some of the suggested changes that his board had made. They mainly involved adding cemeteries and firehouses.

He said that about a third of the approximately 65 municipalities in Montgomery County have instititutional zoning ordinances.

Township commissioner Bruce Toll, who had written much of the original

draft, wanted the commissioners to approve the original document despite its deficiencies. He said "half an ordinance is better than none."

Other commissioners disagreed, saying that the township would be in violation of the state constitution if it passed an ordinance that did not have a companion zoning map showing the proposed institutional districts.

Robert McDonald, solicitor for the Abington School District, said that the planning commission's revised draft was "a step forward" but that it needed more work.

The planning commission must have its final draft ready for its members to approve at their July meeting. The proposed ordinance would then be presented to the board of commissioners in August.

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