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Lancaster County Council tabled the proposed B-3 ordinance at its May 21 meeting with comments from council members Charlene McGriff and Kathy Sistare that they “would not be stampeded into doing anything.”
These comments seem to have been triggered by a flood of e-mails from the public expressing frustration at the refusal of council to allow the B-3 ordinance on the agenda for the May 14 meeting.
After three years of discussion and one failed committee, the current B-3 ordinance was developed by the Ad Hoc B-3 Committee, consisting of three members of the Planning Department, the chair of the Planning Commission and one citizen. These people held public meetings for a couple of months this spring on their own time and initiative because they feel that the B-3 matter is too important to allow to die.
Critical to Indian Land, B-3 zoning reform will also be important in other areas of the county, where it can be easily implemented if the program to be implemented in Indian Land works well.
Although there are minor problems with the language of the ordinance, there is no controversy over the approach that the Ad Hoc Committee developed to reduce the 89 allowed uses in the B-3 zoning classification to 10 allowed uses and 21 conditional uses. The proposal was approved by the Planning Commission at its meeting April 17. The Planning Commission was favorably impressed by the April 17 presentation, made by myself, J.R. Wilt, and appointed me to represent it before County Council in this matter, a procedure specifically permitted under state law.
Council refused to hear the presentation approved by the Planning Commission at its April 23 meeting on the grounds that no ordinance had yet been prepared, then refused to hear the presentation at its May 11 meeting on the grounds that the presentation was to be made by me rather than by a member of the Planning Department.
After a presentation by County Planning Director Chris Karres, council tabled the matter at its May 21 meeting on the grounds that they felt that they were being unduly pressured by citizens to act.
Council then passed first reading of an ordinance to remove the 18-month-old ban on zoning changes in Indian Land pending resolution of the B-3 issue. The latter ordinance is pointless, since the zoning moratorium is already scheduled to expire June 30.
County Council’s behavior can be described only as either obstructive to B-3 reform or irrational. That such behavior would cause negative reaction by citizens would seem to be understandable.
The Ad Hoc B-3 Committee met May 23 and made the necessary minor revisions to the ordinance now pending before County Council. Chris Karres will work with the county attorney to get these revisions made to the ordinance and have it back before council at its June 11 meeting.
The B-3 topic will also be discussed at the Indian Land Action Council meeting at 7 p.m. June 18 in the Indian Land library. The public is invited to this meeting.
It is time to take back our county. We need to start building a community of mutually supporting disparate parts. B-3 zoning reform is a beginning and it is ready to go.
J.R. Wilt is a Van Wyck resident.