Times Herald Questions Need for the Number of Zoning Hearings Involving the Proposed Convenience Store and Gas Pumps

The Times Herald, in its Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down column, gives a thumbs up for the zoning hearings involving the proposed convenience coming to a conclusion. However, it also questions the need for so many:

To the fact that final legal arguments were heard last week by the Conshohocken Zoning Hearing Board on requests for variances to allow construction of a convenience store with gasoline pumps on Fayette Street. Only one resident spoke in favor of the variances, and more than 17 people opposed them. The developer, PPF, representing an unnamed convenience store chain, has been seeking several variances from the zoning board to build a 4,670-square-foot convenience store at 1109 Fayette St., the site of the former E.F. Moore car dealership. Two years ago, PPF unsuccessfully sought zoning changes for the 1.45-acre parcel from Conshohocken Borough Council. The hearing was the 26th since the Villanova development company started the zoning process in April 2014. There has to be a better use of time and money than to have 26 hearings for one piece of property. If this many hearings were actually needed to lay out the case presented by the developer, our zoning regulations are out of control. This is a thumbs up for the hearings finally coming to a conclusion, but it could just as easily be a thumbs down for the fact that it has taken this long to do so.

So why did it take so long? One big reason is that the the Zoning Hearing Board is a volunteer body that usually meets once a month for a couple hours. This issue of the proposed convenience store and gas pumps was seeking placement on a calendar that involved numerous other zoning requests. If you want to put a fence up, and need zoning relief, you were competing for a spot on the calendar with the convenience store. Many months there were two hearings scheduled and one would involve the convenience store proposal.

We find interesting the sentence from the Times Herald that states, “If this many hearings were actually needed to lay out the case presented by the developer, our zoning regulations are out of control.” One could just as easily see it as the developer being out of control and trying to force a development project into a property it didn’t belong.

The decision from the Zoning Hearing Board (well, it could end up in court, so not necessary the final decision) will be announced on August 10th.