Opinion | Questions and ideas regarding potential zoning overlay for Fayette Street in Conshohocken

As MoreThanTheCurve.com reported in April, the Borough of Conshohocken is seeking the input of the public on a possible zoning overlay ordinance for Fayette Street.

There is a public workshop on the topic on Monday, May 2nd at 6:00 p.m. at the Emergency Operations Center at the borough hall at 400 Fayette Street.

Below is the flyer and what we think are some important questions/ideas that need to be asked and/or addressed.

As MoreThanTheCurve.com reported in November of 2021, Montgomery County is encouraging municipalities with transportation hubs to add more transit orient developments. If this is part of the overlay it would mean more density along lower Fayette Street. So is there anything in the overlay that encourages more density?

What blocks of Fayette Street would any overlay involve? Commercial zoning currently is from the bridge to 8th Avenue. Between 8th Avenue and the border with Whitemarsh is the Residential/Office Zoning District. This district offers protection to the facades of the large homes that line most of Fayette Street in this area. While there can be low-intensity businesses in these homes, the facade can’t be altered. If you support this protection it will be important to ask how any overlay impacts the Residential/Office Zoning District.

Would this overlay allow for a convenience store with gas pumps above 8th Avenue?

Should the Commercial Zoning District be extended to 9th Avenue? The Residential/Office District actually wraps around Leeland Mansion (on the 700 block) and then crosses 8th Avenue and goes up Fayette Street to the Whitemarsh border. That Leeland property was sold by the borough to a private company and the sale included deed restrictions to protect it. The homes that exist along the 800 block aren’t of the style that warrants protection. Extending commercial zoning to 9th Avenue makes sense and would make it easier for other businesses to open along the 800 block.

It is time to have a serious discussion about the post office. This building isn’t maintained and the use of the building has been greatly reduced. Inside there are signs that state that local mail is no longer being delivered from this building. What services the post office is offering from this building can be moved to a smaller space and this building should be redeveloped.

Are they focusing on the wrong street? Let’s talk about West Elm Street. The conditions for this road are going to greatly change in the next two to five years. There is the addition of SORA West, over 1,000 new apartments, the moving of the train station to the intersection with Oak Street, and the eventual turnpike ramps at the end of West Elm Street/Conshohocken Road. The homes along West Elm Street are likely not going to be positively impacted by this, however, West Elm Street has the opportunity to become a vibrant commercial corridor on its own. Should the borough rezone this area as commercial? This would drive up property values and give the homeowners along West Elm Street an opportunity to move from a street that is only going to see more and more traffic. It would also bring more retail opportunities within the borough.

While not a zoning issue, is the road diet that has been previously studied part of this plan?

And who created this flyer? The language used shows a lack of understanding on the situation along Fayette Street.