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Commissioners reject zoning change

Residents fearing commercial encroachment on their neighborhoods have successfully argued their case against rezoning to officials in a suburban Philadelphia township.

Neighbors told the Upper Moreland Board of Commissioners that they did not want a business to move to a piece of admittedly dilapidated land along Pioneer Road in Upper Moreland. After hearing from both residents and the man who wanted to move his business to the site, the commissioners voted unanimously to maintain the existing zoning.

The land currently is zoned for residential use; the business owner sought to change the zoning to a small, limited industrial district. The man wanted to use the 1.25 acres for his 5,000-square-foot office building, a similar-sized warehouse and a building as large as 12,000 square feet to hold his car collection.

The business makes products for the electronics industry and offers technical consultations. It has had offices in the community since 1990.

More than 30 residents signed a petition protesting the zoning change. Several residents spoke, explaining that their homes backed Pioneer Road, divided from the street by a 16-foot fence and landscaping. The residents said that while they did not oppose the business owner, they worried that changing the zoning for this property would open the gates to a number of similar businesses. Their property values would dip, traffic and noise would rise, and their neighborhood would lose its residential character, they said.

The business owner argued his proposed building would bring stability to the area. He said the property has been for sale for nearly three years, with the initial asking price of $341,900. When it went back on the market in September 2011, the price was $250,000. He said debris fills the lot, and he would have it cleaned up. The township has taken legal action against the current owner for violating township codes.

Source: Upper Moreland Patch, "Township Votes to Keep Pioneer Road Property Zoned Residential," Gerry Dungan, March 6, 2012

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