The State College Borough Council discussed a possible zoning district amendment, a proposed living space for Penn State students and mentors, and the future of the Borough's involvement with the Centre Regional Planning Agency at last night's regularly scheduled work session.
The two districts under consideration for a zoning change are the Hamilton Avenue Shopping Center and the Westerly Parkway Plaza, said Borough Planner Anne Messner.
State College Mayor Elizabeth Goreham said the proposed zoning district amendment would be for "mixed use districts", meaning they would be open to both residential and commercial buildings.
Messner said both districts are currently mixed use, but under the proposed amendment residential buildings would be limited to multi-family housing such as townhouses and apartments and commercial buildings would be required.
“The planning commission considered it important to maintain the commercial aspect in those districts,” Messner said. “Adjusting the zoning would be one way to make sure that the developments have future commercial use.”
A public hearing on these amendments is scheduled for February 4, after which Council may vote, said Borough Manager Tom Fountaine.
The New Leaf Initiative, a non-profit organization based in State College, has proposed a "Co.Space" at 244 East Nittany Avenue, where sixteen students would live for two years with mentors involved in their future careers.
State College realtor and advisor to the Co.Space project Scot Chambers said that the project would be run through a for-profit entity called State College Co.Space created by the New Leaf Initiative and asked for the Borough’s blessing to move forward with the project.
Steve ‘Spud’ Marshall of New Leaf said the Co.Space project is a way to attract and maintain young professionals in the community and explore sustainability and entrepreneurship in State College.
Chambers said that several banks are interested in the project.
“This is a very sound financial opportunity that puts very little risk to the borough,” he said.
Borough Council member Tom Daubert recommended deferring a decision regarding the Borough’s involvement with the Centre Regional Planning Agency until after the Comprehensive Plan, a multi-municipality planning and zoning document, takes effect.
“I think that having somebody think about planning on regional level is essential,” Council member Peter Morris said.
CRPA Director Jim May said that the CRPA is willing to work with the Borough regarding any areas where Council feels needs improvement.
Fountaine said this issue would likely come up for discussion again in late spring or early summer.