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Well, it’s about time Lancaster County Council finally took up the controversial issue of B-3 commercial zoning again.
Since council lifted the Panhandle’s moratorium on B-3 zoning last June (five days before it was set to expire anyway), the issue had been dead in the water, despite several Panhandle residents’ strident calls to bring it back to council’s attention.
At issue is a commercial zoning classification that allows not only 88 listed uses, but “literally thousands of uses,” according to Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis. With so many allowed uses, many residents worry about what would happen if the community welcomes one type of business at a location, only to see it replaced with a less desirable one.
The issue has already taken up an inordinate amount of time for something that has gone nowhere except off council’s table, again and again.
First, council formed a committee to deal with the issue. Council members Larry McCullough, Larry Honeycutt and Charlene McGriff, members of the county planning department, the planning commission and residents from Indian Land and Van Wyck all worked on the issue for months in late 2011 and early 2012. It presented a plan calling for a special overlay district with 16 business areas, intended to keep Indian Land’s thoroughfares from becoming cluttered with unsightly strip malls and scattered developments. Council decided not to consider the new classifications, but to instead approve extending a B-3 rezoning moratorium.
Council disbanded that committee in March 2012.
An ad-hoc committee, comprised mainly of members of the former council committee, continued working on the plan.
It developed a new ordinance, designed to provide clearer definitions for allowable businesses in B-3 zones, reducing the number of allowable uses to 31, creating a Panhandle overlay district and a new B-5 classification for shopping center districts.
Council shot that proposal down in May 2012.
We just hope that this time, the B-3 zoning issue goes somewhere other than off council’s table.
After the April 8 County Council meeting, it looks like that might be happening. Council at least decided to get some outside, professional help this time.
Hopefully, that will help turn the tide for this issue, which like several others on council’s plate last year – remember the dangerous dog and recreational shooting issues – that ate up a lot of council and area residents’ time and ultimately resulted in absolutely no action.
We’re also hopeful that with two Indian Land residents on council, maybe they can sway the rest of council to see how necessary changes to the B-3 zoning classification are, not just to Indian Land, but to the entire county.
Because as Indian Land goes, so will the county.
With a nice wide, four-lane highway running straight through the heart of Lancaster County from Charlotte, the growth that Indian Land has already seen will keep right on coming south as the economy picks up steam.
Do we want the entire county to be peppered with gas stations/24-hour convenience stores?
If not, now’s the time to take action, before we’re steamrolled by the coming growth.