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Cornwall Borough Council approves PRL and Rexmont Road subdivision plans

In case you missed it… Background to this story

In July 2022, Byler Holdings requested a zoning change from the borough allowing them to build an 800,000 square foot warehouse in their general industrial (GI) zone.

The alternative, they said, was to use their limited industrial (LI) area to build warehouses with a total square footage of about 700,000.

Read more: Cornwall Borough Council hears concept plans from Byler Holdings, one that includes a nearly 800,000 sq ft warehouse (2022)

This plan raised major concerns from many Cornwall residents, with opposition to storage on the site largely due to traffic and noise.

A community group Cornwall United 4 Responsible Development, led by Jeremy Zimmerman, soon emerged in opposition to warehousing at the site.

Council formed an ad hoc committee made up of members of the community, council and the Planning and Zoning Commission to work with Byler Holdings to develop zoning conditions (similar to what was done for H&K, the previous owner of the property) or otherwise work with the developer to find a mutually acceptable solution.

Read more: Cornwall Borough Council is forming an ad hoc committee to work with Byler Holdings

Ad hoc discussions did not go far, as they did not have a clear focus and Byler had not submitted plans for the property. The meetings were suspended until further directives were given.

Byler Holdings sent a letter to the borough withdrawing its request for a change because of community outcry, Swank said. The developer later reversed this request, after community members seemed equally opposed to the plan for smaller warehouses in the LI area.

In September 2023, Byler Holdings asked if the council was willing to consider the amendment submitted the year before. In an informal roll call, the majority of councilors indicated a willingness to consider it.

Read more: Cornwall Borough Council to consider Byler’s text amendment

Council and Byler Holdings agreed to resume ad hoc committee meetings to work out the terms. However, Byler Holdings later requested that the council wait to schedule meetings until an internal decision was made.

At about the same time, Cornwall United came up with its own amendment to zoning text that would remove “public warehouse” as an LI permitted use and add it as a general commercial permitted conditional use.

Read more: Cornwall Borough Council refers citizens’ text amendment to ad hoc committee

This amendment was referred to the Ad Hoc Committee and has since been referred to P&Z for evaluation and recommendations.

In November, Swank returned to the council to pitch a new zoning, one that would change the ordinance passed Tuesday.

Read more: Cornwall to consider Byler zoning change, expects January decision

The proposed change would allow manufacturing uses in Cornwall GI zones, with Byler’s property containing the only GI plot in the borough.

Swank said at the time that if the amendment passed, Byler Holdings would withdraw its previous zoning change request. But the council had to move quickly, as Byler hoped to lease to Cornwall-based submarine parts manufacturer PRL Industries, which had a tight timeline.

PRL Industries plans to enter into a 20-year minimum lease for about 10 acres of the 104-acre site, of which Swank also has about 60 acres that cannot be developed. Traffic would mostly be limited to a flatbed truck driving in and out a few times a day, PRL sales and marketing manager Tim Lewis said.

As the US is in the process of doing greatly expand its submarine productionPRL is under a tight timeline as one of the top parts manufacturers in the country to ramp up its production.

The council agreed to expedite the process and sent the amendment to P&Z and Lebanon County Planning with the goal of holding a hearing and deciding whether or not to adopt the amendment in January. P&Z discussed the details of the amendment and made some changes before it was referred back to Council.

Read more: Planning Commission Advances Zoning Accelerated for PRL Industries

The council unanimously agreed to schedule a public hearing for the change at its Jan. 2 reorganization meeting, where it would then be adopted with changes.

Read more: Cornwall Borough Council is planning a public hearing for the Byler amendment

Byler Holdings then submitted a plan for low-density residential development and conservation recreation. The plan includes 131 detached houses, built in three stages.

Both the PRL plan and the Rexmont Road subdivision are now before council for approval.

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