Turkey Farm Rezoning Parameters Considered
Chester Borough Council considers future for property at corner of Route 206 and Main Street.
Progress on the Larison Turkey Farm property moved forward Tuesday night.
Attorney John Wyciskala, among others, attended the Chester Borough Council meeting on behalf of Turkey Farm Acquisition LLC to discuss the rezoning process the group wishes to pass for the 27 acres.
"The problem that we have is zoning, it's a split-lot zoning," Wyciskala said. "It bodes a problem; I think in years past, you had developers that would take a shot without zoning, but given the current economy, without the ability to present somebody with a zoning ordinance that works, it's difficult to advance a discussion, especially with hotel operators. We've spoken with specialty food stores and they all think it sounds great and looks great, but without zoning in place they're only willing to take it so far."
The property that the group wants rezoned is the "10-plus-or-minus" O-P (office professional) acres and the "17-plus-or-minus" R-LD (residential/low density) acres on the corner of Route 206 and Main Street.
"Their goal is (to put) a bank, they want to have a restaurant, they want to have another retail building on the front of that site along West Main Street," Mayor Robert Davis said. "They're not very definitive. What they're trying to do is bring the concept forward as opposed to specifics forward because when we rezone, we rezone on concepts, we don't rezone on specifics necessarily."
The property has been home to several failed businesses over the past 11 years and hasn't been occupied in three years, according to Davis.
"The key thing with the property is technically right now is it's a failed site," Davis said. "There's been three different restaurateurs come forward that leased the building out and it's not been successful; my goal is to have the site be successful, economically successful."
In July, the group outlined in a letter to the council the what the new property's permitted principal uses can be. They include: administrative, business and professional offices; retail sales establishments; professional offices, banks, commercial and private schools, clerical occupations of all kinds, insurance agencies, travel agencies and stock brokerage firms; hotels, motels, inns, taverns, restaurants and bars; personal services establishments; rental and leasing services; child care centers; indoor physical fitness facilities; conference centers; governmental buildings and uses, and public parks and playgrounds; and single family and multi-family residential development.
The letter stated that permitted accessory uses could be: surface parking and loading areas and driveways; signs; outdoor dining facilities accessory to a permitted restaurant use; drive-in facilities accessory to a bank or pharmacy; and other accessory uses and structures that are customarily incidental to a permitted principal use.
At the end of the meeting, Davis suggested that each member of the council organize some thoughts about the rezoning for the next meeting. If the council decides that rezoning is a good idea, the project will move to the Planning Board and a decision will be made.
"I'd like to say we need goals and objectives, we need to identify general parameters, we need to understand what some of the limitations are for the permitting process and the regulatory process in general," Planner David Banisch said. "Once those things are fleshed out then the Planning Board could begin work on something.
"It doesn't matter what the planning board really says because ultimately it doesn't become law if this governing body doesn't make it law," he added.
However, Davis said that "this is going to go on for a few months."