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Community speaks out about zoning changes in Centre County

By: Erin Calandra and WJAC Web Staff

CENTRE COUNTY, Pa.-- Planning officials in College Township are reviewing a zoning change request for the Hilltop Mobile Home Park. The land is zoned exclusively for a mobile home park, but the owners of the property, Kenneth and Sharon Mayes are trying to get that changed to commercial and residential zoning.

Their previous plan was to sell the land to a student housing developer, but that fell through after the township denied a higher density zoning request.

The new request includes gateway commercial, town homes, duplexes and green space. Mark Holdren, the senior planner for College Township, said the gateway commercial request includes small shops, restaurants and hotels, but it also includes any type of residential uses with no restrictions. "If the gateway commercial is developed with residential, there is actually no max density, so basically its however many units they can fit on the site," Holdren said.

Some people who live in the neighboring Centre Hills development, including Don Boller, are outraged, saying this leaves the options wide open for student housing developers. "We would like to see single -family homes and maybe multiple families, but not students," Boller said.

The layout of this request puts the commercial zoning right along College Avenue, townhouses and duplexes in the middle and about 150 feet of green space to act as a buffer between the development and Centre Hills. But Boller said that's not enough, "A buffer is good, but what's on the other side?"

Planning officials are studying this request to see how it will impact traffic and other issues, but Holdren said they don't know what exactly is planned for the property. "We know that the owner is talking to several developers,  but he hasn't told us who and I don't think he plans on telling us who either this time."

The impact study is expected to be done in January.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times