The Limerick Township Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday night to approve an ordinance that will rezone Ridge Pike and create a brand new Main Street district.
With Supervisor Joseph St. Pedro absent, the four board members in attendance passed the ordinance by a vote of 3-1, with Supervisor Kenneth Sperring casting the dissenting vote.
The board held a public hearing prior to voting on the ordinance, where several local residents stepped up and expressed their opinions on the new ordinance.
The hearing opened with an introduction from solicitor Joseph McGrory, who explained that the board's intention was to enhance future development of the corridor.
McGrory also explained that people who currently own property along Ridge Pike will see no change in what they are allowed to do with their land unless substantial changes are made (such as a residential property becoming commercial property).
"In most aspects, the board is permitting more variety of uses on people's parcels. Anyone who currently has a use in this district gets to retain that use. We're not taking away anyone's rights here," McGrory said.
The new zoning distrct affects 192 properties on Ridge Pike from Township Line Road up to Rupert Road, where Lower Pottsgrove Township begins.
Testimony started with a presentation from Peter Simone of Simone Collins Landscape Architecture.
Simone covered many points about the ordinance that have been .
According to Simone, the ordinance provides for the creation of a consistent zoning district and encourages mixed uses (combined residential and business uses) along the road.
The ordinance also includes some general design standards, such as landscape buffer and streetscape rules, and rules about .
Several residents spoke during the public question and comment period.
Robert Cox, owner of a farm on Ridge and Kugler, wanted to know why the zoning on his property had been split.
Simone told Cox that the district is planned to include a future realignment of Kugler Road and Swamp Pike.
Cox also said that he wanted to discuss the issue further with township staff.
"We don't like to consider a hodge-podge of commercial uses [along Kugler Road]," Cox said. "We want to see an attractive development."
Mark Quigley, who owns a 37-acre parcel on Ridge Pike, expressed his discontent with the plans.
Quigley said he feels that the new district places too many impediments to development.
"When you add extra steps [to the approval process], it drives away prospective users," Quigley said.
McGrory pointed out that Quigley's parcel is unusual because of its size.
"Of 192 parcels, maybe 6 of them are large like yours," McGrory said.
Ridge Pike resident David Ewald also said he felt that the changes drive away prospective buyers.
Jack Mellon, who also lives on Ridge Pike, questioned why the notice posted in his yard stated that the changes "may result in decreased property value."
McGrory explained that legally, the township has to inform people that their property might devalue because if they do not, the ordinance could be challenged.
Several supervisors said at the end of the comment period that they feel the change is beneficial.
"It creates a sense of community," said supervisor Tom Neafcy. "Ridge Pike will have an identity."
"This probably should have been done years ago, now we're picking up the ball and running with it," Neafcy said.
"We have listened and will continue to listen [to feedback]," said supervisor Kara Shuler.
Supervisor Elaine DeWan also emphasized how much change has been made to the ordinance.
"We are always open to changes," DeWan said.
After McGrory declared the hearing closed, Neafcy moved to adopt the zoning district resolution and the accompanying resolution to change the zoning maps.
Shuler, Neafcy and DeWan voted aye; Sperring voted nay, and the motion passed 3-1.
Sperring told Patch after the meeting that he 'just has some fundamental differences" with other board members about the ordinance.
"I agree with probably 90 percent of it the ordinance]," Sperring said, but he declined to elaborate.
"None of the comments tonight will be forgotten," Shuler told the crowd. "We are still here to hear about your individual concerns."