Thursday, March 14, 2013

3 candidates file petitions for primary

Tuesday was the deadline for candidates in municipal elections to file petitions to appear on the May 21 primary ballot. Here in Elizabethtown, three people for three seats on Borough Council have filed and are running unopposed, according to Randall O. Wenger, chief registrar for Lancaster County Registration and Elections.

They are incumbents Dale Treese in Ward 3 and and J. Neil Ketchum, currently council president, in Ward 2.

The third is J. Marc Hershey,  treasurer of the Elizabethtown Fire Department, a newcomer to council who is running to replace longtime Councillor Meade Bierly. Bierly announced that, after 40 years serving on council, that he was not running for another term this year.

I have to say that it has been a pleasure serving on council with Meade Bierly. He brings a wealth of experience and insight to the table that has served me well in the past six years, not to mention the borough as a whole.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Airbags stolen from Chevy Cobalts

Elizabethtown police had two reports of the theft of driver side air bags from Chevrolet Cobalts this past week. 

The thefts occurred on March 5 and 8 during the overnight hours in the 600 block of North Lime Street and 300 block of North Cherry Alley. The air bag modules are valued at $750 each.

"The air bags are being cut out of the steering wheel of the vehicles. This is unusual for our community," said Elizabethtown Police Chief Jack Mentzer. "Air bag thefts are much more common in urban areas but unfortunately has come to our community." 

Mentzer reminded citizens to lock their car doors and to be alert to any suspicious activity and if they see or hear something suspicious, call the police immediately. 

It goes without saying that owners of Chevrolet Cobalts should be extra vigilant, though this type of crime is not limited to this particular make and model. It just depends on the demand in the illegal car parts market where these items are typically sold. 

Mentzer added if you are a victim of this type of crime it is important to report it to the
police. There is a serial number on the air bag module that can be traced back to your car if the stolen module is located.

Anyone having information on these crimes is asked to contact the Elizabethtown Police Department at 367-1835.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Four reasons why I support rezoning College Avenue

Last month, Elizabethtown Borough Council held a public hearing on a proposal to change the zoning on College Avenue between Market and Spruce Streets from residential to mixed use. The latter is a designation that allows for small businesses and professional offices, similar to what you might see downtown, to open in and among the existing residential buildings.

The idea to make the change percolated from a discussion that we had on Borough Council last year.

Here are four reasons why I, as one member of Borough Council, think it's a good idea:

  1. When the idea came up, I believe it was Councillor Tom Shaud who observed that a number of business already operate on that section of College Avenue. If you're keeping score, by my count, it's three: the Optibarn at 20 College Ave., Elizabethtown Sporting Goods at 59 College Ave. and Hollinger Services at 50 College Ave. Since the mixed use designation already exists on Market Street, I recall Tom saying, it would be a natural extension of that designation onto a street that already exemplifies it.
  2. About seven years ago, and before I was elected, Borough Council rezoned Market Street west to the train station as a mixed use area. Since then, borough staff said at the hearing last month, no one has reported any problems or complaints with the rezoning. Given that it has worked smoothly along West High Street, and that we have a top-notch staff that would address any issues before they become problems, I would expect College Avenue to go smoothly.
  3. One of the big selling points for my support is that businesses would not have carte blanche approval to open just because they're allowed in that area. Any new businesses that would want to open in one of the residential houses would need to meet design standards, such as installing buffers like shrubbery or a fence. It also would have to abide by parking requirements. And all other requirements, such as stormwater runoff remain in place. While some residents who live in the neighborhood now have legitimate concerns about the proposed change, I believe the design standards and other requirements mitigate the issues.
  4. As I mentioned at the beginning, College Avenue is home to existing businesses. Because the sporting goods store and Hollinger's are in the residential zoning, they are called "existing nonconforming uses." If they were to go under, and no new business would open in 12 months, the buildings would revert to the residential zoning. And that could effectively turn them into empty shells. As Councillor Meade Bierly said at the hearing, that increases the chances that they would sit empty and become eyesores -- and decrease neighboring property values. Rezoning the area to the mixed use designation gives property owners another option to market their properties. And it will keep a main artery for town, especially with visitors to Elizabethtown College, looking nice and inviting.
These are the reasons I think rezoning of the area will work. Tell me your thoughts. What do you think about the proposed rezoning and why?