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Borough concerned with industrial encroachment

Concerned with industry encroaching on residential areas, about 25 people attended a hearing on Blaise Alexander Family Dealerships’ proposed zoning map amendment along Fairfield Road at the Montoursville Borough meeting Monday.

No decision was made by the council, whose members said they would explore creating a light industrial zone.

The rezoned area is approximately 12 acres and is backset about 200 feet from the road, said David Hines, zoning officer. The remaining 2.8 acres, which is currently zoned as residential would remain unchanged.

“Adjacent properties to the north and east are zoned residential suburban and industrial,” he said. “The previous use in this property was a quarry and an undeveloped cemetery.”

A southeast corner of the property is in Fairfield Township and is zoned for commercial use.

Aubrey Alexander, who owns the dealership, said he started looking at the nearby property as a place to expand his parking lot about two years ago.

“This land seemed pretty perfect for what we needed,” he said. “I know that the industrial (zoning) allows for a lot of other uses.”

Apart from a parking lot, a small storage building or warehouse may be built, he added.

Unlike some boroughs, which have clear distinctions between light and heavy industrial use, Montoursville does not make a distinction, said Ted Haines, council member.

“Why wouldn’t we address that by adding light industrial so we wouldn’t have to deal with the fears that some of us have with what could happen after Alexander’s company,” he said. “What (Alexander) wants to use it for, perfect. It’s that future state that’s unknown.”

Haines said the council should research differentiating between the two industrial zones.

Heavy industry is only one concern residents have, however, said Mark Tillson, council member.

“I think a lot of the citizens here are concerned about a couple of things, traffic and the possibility of properties being devalued,” he said.

Alexander said he would “technically” be open to his land being zoned as light industry, but “I wouldn’t want to be here a year from now talking about the same thing.”

“I don’t see it other than some warehousing, some light manufacturing. I see that as about the only use it’s ever going to be in there,” he added.

The council agreed to put the issue on the “speed track,” and met for an executive session after the public meeting to discuss options with the borough’s appointed lawyer.

In other business, the borough:

• Approved an ordinance vacating a portion of Charles Street.

• Approved a real estate tax reimbursement to LC Realty, Inc. for $293.95

• Authorized the borough secretary to sell a 2013 Dodge Charger by auction or online.

• Authorized the borough secretary to sell a Saltdogg hydraulic conveyor chain spreader by auction or online.

All members were present.

The next borough council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 2 in the John Dorin Municipal Building.

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