Correction appended: Feb. 24, 2013.
The State College Borough Council is considering rezoning the Hamilton Avenue and Westerly Parkway Shopping Centers, council President Don Hahn said.
The topic was scheduled for a work session for further discussion at tonight’s borough council work session meeting, as previously reported.
The proposed zoning changes would include regulations on new development designed to “ensure continued commercial usage” of these areas, Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said.
Some of these changes include a required 40 percent of newly-developed lots to be for commercial usage and limiting residential development to multi-family housing, such as apartments and townhouses, State College Planning Director Carl Hess said.
These proposed regulations would only apply to redevelopment, meaning current buildings could be renovated without meeting these requirements, as long as the size of the building is not expanded, Hess said. Hess also said these regulations do not bind tenants, so occupancy would be allowed to change.
These changes have been a subject of discussion at council for a year and a half, but the idea to rezone certain commercial districts in the borough was first brought up by the planning commission in 2007, Hess said.
Originally, all areas with the same zoning classifications as the two shopping centers were considered for this rezoning, but Westerly Parkway and Hamilton Avenue were chosen because “they share characteristics of being in a neighborhood,” Meagan Tuttle of the State College Planning Department said.
“The kinds of businesses that are supportive of neighborhoods are being targeted [by this rezoning],” Tuttle said. Some of these businesses include supermarkets, drugstores, and convenience stores, Tuttle said.
Westerly Parkway is also a choice for development because it has several vacant lots, Hahn said.
State College realtor Mike Shigley said he questions what impact multi-family residencies, specifically student housing, would have on nearby single-family residency neighborhoods, saying they would be “yet another encroachment” on the neighborhoods.
Tuttle said there is no way of predicting the future tenants of potential developments — student housing is often rental, and incentives are included to promote owner-occupancy residencies, Tuttle said.
Joseph Povinelli, the vice-president of leasing at Westerly Parkway with New York-based Marx Realty, said he questions whether drive-through businesses would be allowed.
“Retailers shy away from sites without drive-thru ability,” Povinelli said.
Drive-thru restaurants are allowed under the current zoning and the rezoning has no provisions against them, Hess said.
Fountaine said the proposal will be reviewed and will consider the points raised by public comment, after which it may return to the planning department for adjustments.