Council Delays Zoning Decision

Posted: June 13, 1991

The Washington Township Council has postponed until August a proposed change in zoning of 19 parcels of land to a new category known as office- residential.

The delay is needed to notify the owners of the 19 sitesand nearby residents. Planners failed to do that before bringing the proposed changes to the Township Council last week.

As many as 150 people could be affected by the changes and will be notified, said Township Planner Lou Glass. Glass told the council that no notification was made because there was no legal requirement to do so.

Councilman Joseph Yost said the township still had an obligation to notify the owners and residents, in case the zoning changes were to jeopardize plans for the lots.

"I would really be upset if I owned a highway-commercial lot and you turned it into O-1 (zoning) without letting me know," Yost said.

Yost called for the delay while the Planning Department searched tax records to find the owners of the properties.

State law requires only that the owners be notified before a public hearing, as they were before a meeting last month, said Township Attorney Joseph Alacqua.

O-1 zoning, as the new category is popularly known, was created by the council last month in order to protect neighborhoods where professionals such as doctors and lawyers currently operate home offices.

Many of those offices currently exist in homes zoned as "highway commercial," which planning officials fear is too loose a designation.

Although such a designation properly allows individual businesses to operate, Planning Board Chairman James McMonigle said he and other board members were becoming increasingly wary of what a second- or third-generation owner might do with such a building - opening a gas station, for example.

The new category would prohibit that.

In addition, the council also directed planning officials to reconsider two of the areas for which changes to O-1 zoning had been proposed.

One of the lots, along Fries Mill Road, extends too close to an area now strictly residential, said Councilman John Rogale. The parcel, now zoned residential, is also adjacent to the proposed University Executive Campus, which is being developed by Frank Lauletta.

The other lot to be be reconsidered is a parcel of land along the north side of Greentree Road near the township building. The area would include parts of a proposed library and senior citizens center. Councilman Robert Berry said the site would best be zoned strictly for the two institutions.

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