Conshohocken’s Borough Council moves to eliminate residential uses in limited industrial zoning district

Conshohocken’s Borough Council has advertised that it will hold a hearing on January 6th to consider an ordinance that would repeal a portion of the zoning code that allows residential uses within the Limited Industrial district.

Map: Borough of Conshohocken

This district mainly runs along both sides of the railroad tracks on the eastern side of Conshohocken, plus along a portion of Colwell Lane and a small patch below Wood Street along West 7th Avenue (which is a paper street at this place).

This is an interesting action to take. In 2010, when the Residential Overlay District was created, the then members of Borough Council amended the zoning code to encourage residential development in the limited industrial district. The legislative intent from zoning code reads:

In the expansion of the declaration of legislative intent contained in Part 1, the intent of the Residential Overlay District is to permit by conditional use modern multifamily housing units within the LI District and to provide a mix of housing types and options available to Borough residents. It is further the intention of this overlay district to provide specific performance standards designed to enhance this type of housing type and preserve the neighboring residential properties.

The new ordinance doesn’t offer an explanation (view here) of why this is being considered.

We reviewed the 2018 Comprehensive Plan for Conshohocken and the Residential Overlay District is not specifically mentioned, but there is language about maintaining industrial uses that are part of the borough’s character. In addition, maintaining and encouraging industrial uses are mentioned as important to the borough’s tax base.

A townhouse development was recently proposed for a corner of West Elm Street and Poplar Street that falls within the Limited Industrial District. Officials could be trying to get ahead of a wave of residential development that would replace the limited amount of industrial properties that remain.

The Comprehensive Plan also makes a recommendation to rezone a portion of the Limited Industrial District to be included within one of the existing residential districts. The area specifically mentioned is the area at the bottom of West 7th Avenue that is near Sutcliffe Park. The removal of the residential overlay district could be an initial step in a larger overhaul of the Limited Industrial District.

Please note that the Borough’s zoning code refers to the zoning district discussed as the Limited Industrial District. The Comprehensive Plan refers to is as the Light Industrial District.

More to come.