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Chester council to hear L&C request

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Denyse Clark
Landmark News Service
CHESTER – The Chester County Planning Commission met last week and unanimously approved a rezoning request for the L&C Railway.
The request was submitted to change property at 4544 Lancaster Highway, Richburg, for chemical manufacturing.
Chester County Economic Director Karlisa Parker made the request at a Dec. 20 meeting on behalf of L&C Railway. Parker told the planning commission she represented L&C landholdings and asked for the property to be rezoned to ID-3.
She presented products representative of the type of chemicals to be used at the site.
“How many jobs are you gonna create?” asked commission member Jack Cabrey.
“We are anticipating between 19 and 20,” Parker said.
Robert Raines, commission chairman, asked Parker if she anticipated using rail transportation and trucks.
“Yes, sir,” she said.
Jerry Hinson of Chester was the first of three county residents who voiced opinions about the rezoning request.
Hinson said he arrived at the meeting still unsure if he was “pro or con.”
“Anytime you mention chemicals, there’s a red flag that goes up,” he said. “As we continue to make zoning changes, we’d like to see foresight given to what goes into those changes. Anytime you do not inform the public of what’s going on, it is clouded in mystique. I don’t want to see Chester as the chemical capital of the South. We don’t need to risk people’s health for a few jobs.”
Richburg resident Liz Odum addressed the “special variance” granted for use of the property.
“I don’t have a problem with rezoning. My problem is with the special variance granted for ID-2,” she said. “They’ve gone through the process of advertising it as they should, but now, they need to go back and give the public time to understand ID-3, which is more aggressive zoning.”
Odum also addressed special exceptions to the  1,000-foot setbacks, which require structures and operations to be set back a minimum of 1,000 feet from rural, residential or agricultural property lines.
“Don’t grant that variance on the setback,” she told the planning commission.
Scott Rice, also a resident of Richburg, was there to inform the council of inaccurate information presented at a previous meeting, he said.
Previously, information was shared that the closest neighborhood to the proposed site to be rezoned was 2.5 miles.
“That is inaccurate,” Rice said. “There are two neighborhoods a lot closer. I don’t know the names of these neighborhoods, but if you’ve got 10 or more houses – that’s a neighborhood. That information was incorrect and I just wanted to set the record straight.”
Rice also addressed setbacks and said if a larger piece of property was bought, there would be no need for a change of variance or a setback.
“Why change it when there’s other suitable property?” he said. “If you’re transporting hydrochloric acid, that’s pretty serious stuff. There are schools nearby. That’s bad publicity.”
Cabrey addressed public concerns about the type and threat of chemicals proposed for the area.
He said chemicals are rated on a scale from one to 10 with 10 being the most volatile.
“I was in the chemical business for 40 years,” Cabrey said. “In terms of volatile, this we’re proposing tonight is a two. It’s as docile as the dickens. It’s what we want to have in Chester County.”
Cabrey then made the motion to approve the rezoning request from ID-2 to ID-3 with the provision that if the company does not specify within six months what type chemicals will be used that the property reverts back to ID-2.
Mack Paul, the county’s planning and zoning director, added clarification that the provision was inserted to assure that the company shows it is moving forward within a six-month period. The provision allows Paul to give an extension, if needed. Otherwise, the rezoning request reverts to the former zoning classification, he said. Commission member Marvin Grant then seconded Cabrey’s motion. The vote was unanimous in favor of approval.
The request now goes to Council for its approval.