Does the idea of going before a borough committee to present plans for a new addition that you’ve recently learned might not comply with zoning laws make you break out in a cold sweat? You’re not alone, but the members of the Community Development Committee (CDC) want to calm your fears.
“We try to put out the welcome mat for the residents and businesses that come to speak to our committee,” says Brian Hall, Chair of the CDC and Borough Council President. “Speaking in a formal setting can be perceived as intimidating. We want people to know that we are here to work with them, that we want to have discussions and help them find solutions.”
Addressing the “oddities and anomalies” of the zoning code (to quote Kevin Matson, the borough engineer) is one of the primary reasons the CDC is in place. “Many of the structures of the borough stood long before the zoning code was adopted in the 1970s. When residents or businesses want to make adjustments… say, to put on an addition or change a facade… they must figure out how to follow the zoning code even when their structure was built before the rules were created. That’s where the CDC comes into play,” says Hall.
Another key role the CDC plays is to advise the council on items contained in the comprehensive plan, ensuring that the borough is addressing long-term zoning and planning issues. In recent years, the CDC has played a critical role in adopting the borough’s new comprehensive plan in 2015, and in shepherding the upcoming Sidewalk Network project.
Looking ahead, the CDC is exploring an alternative zoning concept (Form-Based Zoning) and the borough has requested bids for this project. The CDC also regularly discussed topics like code enforcement, particularly how to evolve ordinances to reflect present day norms versus what was typical when the code was written.
The committee meets monthly and includes three council members (Hall, Amy Johnson and Paul Robinson).