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Tinicum Supervisors discuss advantage of impervious parking lot covering


As it continues its long-running, landmark effort to integrate all zoning amendments from the last 20 years into its zoning code, Tinicum Township is moving toward increasing maximum impervious surface allowed for industrial parks.

The change in its planned industrial zone (PI) would be from 20 percent to 30 percent. The move may help land development efforts for a sketch plan for Bedminster Road that raised environmental and rural character concerns among residents last fall.

As part of its review of 20 zoning ordinance sections proposed for amendment prior to or as part of the new zoning codification, the board of supervisors recommended at their March 3 public meeting that the planning commission increase the industrial park limit to 30 percent. Township Zoning Officer/Planner Tracy Tackett noted that other permitted uses in the PI are allowed 40 percent, but that the new 30 percent for industrial parks “would be in keeping with the township’s comprehensive plan.” That plan features a commitment to preservation and protection for the township’s natural resources.

At the conclusion of a two-session conditional use hearing at their Dec. 3 meeting, supervisors granted conditional use approval for a sketch plan for any one of six possible uses for a 20-acre, two-parcel, presently vacant tract in the 3600 block of Bedminster Road (Route 113), which has a rear boundary on Tohickon Creek, and is in the PI zone. The approved possible use list, drawn from the 31 PI uses allowed by the township, includes wholesale, printing, contracting, crafts, mini-warehouse, and industrial park.

Residents’ environmental and rural character concerns, especially regarding possible harm to Tohickon Creek, highlighted comments at the two-session hearing, and a list of nine conditions in the approval includes that the developer, as a condition of land development approval, must receive conditional use approval for several Overlay Districts, including Critical Recharge (if deemed applicable to the property); Critical Biodiversity; Prime Farmland and Agricultural Soils; Delaware River Wild and Scenic; Tohickon Watershed; and Woodland and Hedgerow.

During the March 3 discussion of the increase in allowable impervious surface for industrial parks, officials noted that while impervious surface was presently limited to 20 percent, maximum allowable building lot coverage was 25 percent. Increase of impervious surface to greater than building lot coverage was noted as supported by the planning commission, in association with the developer for the Bedminster Road sketch plan.

Regarding the rest of the zoning code changes discussed at the March 3 meeting, Tackett said afterwards that “many of the items were just inconsistency corrections to the zoning code. Once we are able to get these fixes adopted, then we can finalize the new codification.”

Referring in part to recent changes made in response to residents’ complaints about unnecessary and burdensome restrictions, she added her view that “the real benefit to residents are some of the ordinance amendments that have been passed over the past couple of years,” and that “once we are able to get all these amendments integrated into the appropriate codes, we will have a much more user-friendly set of codes for the public.”