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Plymouth Considers Rezoning Parts of Butler Pike, Plymouth Road

Would allow for certain types of office use.

Plymouth Township staff is currently working on a draft "Limited Professional Office Ordinance" that would rezone sections of Butler Pike and Plymouth Road near their intersection in Cold Point, to allow for some office uses.

Plymouth Council said the draft ordinance is being prepared after about twenty residents in the area approached the township and asked for the changes.

"This was generated from some of the residents-- that's what brought this on," said council chair Sheldon Simpson at Monday's workshop meeting. "They can't sell their properties, but don't want to raise a family there."

As currently zoned, office use is not allowed in the district, as either a principle or secondary use. With the area's character changing with the development of the Cold Point properties at Butler Pike and Flourtown Road, the ordinance appears to offer a residents another way to sell their homes, while keeping the historic feel of the area intact.

Township Planning consultant Ken Amey said that the ordinance is designed to keep out large or disruptive offices.

"The [directives were] to restrict the kinds of uses that would be permitted, limit the size of the office that would be allowed so there wouldn't be large offices with multiple employees and a lot of traffic, and another was to limit the size of signs," Amey said.

As currently drafted, the ordinance would allow for engineers, architects, teachers, accountants, planners, lawyers, or realtors to open offices in the district. Medical offices were removed from an earlier draft out of concern from council that they would draw too many visitors, Amey said.

Amey told council the current draft would limit the size of an office to 2,000-square-feet, and reduce maximum signage to six-square-feet. Signs could also be no more than four feet in height and could not be backlit, Amey said.

While staff wouldn't specify the addresses being considered for rezoning, they did say the district would roughly extend down Butler Pike from Militia Hill Road, and west onto Plymouth Road for some distance. Certain properties may also be left out, said Zoning Officer David Conroy.

The five-member council seemed comfortable with the current draft, although councilman Vince Gillen asked if portions of Germantown Pike could be included. Staff said that they would look into the roadway's current zoning specifications, but Simpson was wary of setting precedent.

"The only problem with Germantown Pike is that it gets to be one of these Pandora's boxes where you don't know where it stops," Simpson said. "Then you have Belvoir Road doing the same thing…then Clover."

Solicitor Thomas Speers responded that Council has the ability to pass such zoning ordinances wherever they see fit.

"It's not spot zoning… It's a choice you get to make you when you write a zoning ordinance," Speers said.

Council said they would consult with the area's residents about the draft before advertising it for adoption at a legislative meeting next year.

Gb December 05, 2012 at 07:51 PM
I live in Cold Manor on Butler and flourtown. This is all news to me! That interesting does not need any more traffic. As a whitemarsh resident do I have any ability to interact with plymouth township. Is SalPaoneBuilder ventures developing the office space. I know there was talk of a cvs.
joanne mamrosch December 06, 2012 at 01:06 PM
I don't think that the rezoning will actually keep the historical nature of the area in tack. How do you do that by building commercial office space. I sat on HARB for many years. They tried to regulate the look of the commercial building built on Bulter Pike. Ride down Butler Pike between Germantown and Flourtown Road and point out the beautiful historical buildings? There aren't any. It is a shame to destroy the historical buildings of the past, it continues to happen and sleak new commercial building stand in the areas. What a shame. In regards to the resident of Cold Manor who didn't know that the commerical zoning change was being considered, this doesn't seem unusual. The township had a request for a zoning change in my neighborhood and the residents of the neighborhood would not have known if it hadn't been for a resident's attendance at the local township meeting. Upon inquiring why, we were told that notices were sent to homes with 5 houses of the zoning change. A zoning change effects all the residents of the neighborhood and everyone should be notified.
Kyle Bagenstose December 06, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Hi Joanne, thanks for commenting. Perhaps I should have found a way to say this in the article, but I believe the thinking is that the kinds of businesses that would be attracted to this area would be the ones without the financial means to tear down the homes and build new offices. That's made even more difficult by the 2,000-square-feet limitation. In other words, you'd be much more likely to see professionals use the first floor of existing structures as a small office space. Now, whether that still is too much change for the area is a matter of personal opinion.
Robert Manley December 11, 2012 at 12:18 AM
The 4 acres on the northwest corner of Bulter and Plymouth Rds are owned by Sal Paone. He recently wanted to put a CVS there but was turned down. How can 20 residents want this change when there are approximately seven houses in the location of the proposed zoning change? I do not get it. Makes no sense at all.

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