The commission voted 4-3 yesterday against a recommendation to rezone the land from agricultural use to industrial commercial use, yet did unanimously pass a recommendation for the township to update its planning and ordinances, said Kirk Stoner, the county’s planning department director.
The rezoning request comes as Atlanta-based Industrial Development International Inc., or IDI, has submitted preliminary sketches to the township to build three warehouses with 2.4 million square feet on the farmland off Centerville Road.
The township said this week it’s planning for a public hearing in the next month to weigh the rezoning request.
Chris Knarr, the county planning commission’s vice chairman, said today the vote against the rezoning recommendation was not a judgment on the warehouse plan itself, but a reflection that the township needs to square away its planning for the Centerville Road corridor between Exit 37 of Interstate 81 and Walnut Bottom Road.
“We wanted to support industrial development in the western part of the county, especially around that exit,” said Knarr, who voted against the recommendation.
Centerville Road has changed a lot since the township’s comprehensive plan was written in 2007, including the addition of water and sewer services vital to industrial development and the construction of warehouses at Key Logistics Park.
In the long run, the area is suited for industrial development, but the township will need to update its planning to reflect that and prepare for growth, said Knarr, a certified planner with Lancaster-based engineering firm Rettew Associates Inc. and a Mechanicsburg resident.
The county planning commission’s role is purely advisory. Ultimately, the final decisions on rezoning and warehouse development will be made by the Penn Township supervisors in the coming months. The supervisors have a regular meeting Feb. 14.