More than 100 red-clad residents of BridgeMill and surrounding neighborhoods packed the Lancaster County Council meeting Monday to oppose a rezoning application by McClancy Seasoning Co. from residential to light industrial.
They didn’t leave disappointed.
The council denied the request on a 4-3 vote after the third and final reading of the measure.
Due to an apparent oversight, McClancy, located next to the 500-plus-home BridgeMill community, has been operating in an area zoned for residential use for nearly 20 years. County Administrator Steve Willis wanted the county to correct the error rather than wait for the company to apply for the rezoning. The company was hoping for a change to industrial zoning so it can expand its facility off Spice Road as part of a $3 million project McClancy said will create 42 new jobs.
More than 70 residents showed up at second reading in September. On Monday, they made a splashier showing not only with greater numbers but matching red T-shirts. One of them, Jerry Holt, who has spoken at previous meetings, said approving the application would amount to “illegal spot zoning.” He urged the council to deny the motion and encouraged McClancy CEO Reid Wilkerson to submit his business plans and apply for the rezoing himself.
The council approved the request on split votes after two previous readings but voted unanimously to table the measure, delaying a third reading vote to Monday’s meeting.
Residents aren’t opposed to the expansion, they said, just the rezoning. Property zoned industrial so close their subdivision will lower residential property values and open the door to unwanted development, they said.
“I have been trying to do the appropriate thing to fix this problem because I cannot expand on this site (under residential zoning),” Wilkerson told the council Monday. “I am not happy that I have upset my neighbors.”
Over 100 residents showed up Monday night, dressed in red, to show their support.
After the council heard from everyone who asked to speak, including attorneys and corporate representatives for BridgeMill developer John Wieland, a motion to table the measure and require Willis to withdraw the application was made. The motion was denied.
The council debated and discussed several options. One was to allow McClancy to keep its zoning as residential and allow the company to amend the non-conforming use clause, which would allow McClancy to expand the operation within residential or manufacturing guidelines, but not industrial. That option was ultimately denied, as County Planning Director Penelope Karagounis cautioned it could potentially open the county up to future challenges.
Councilman Larry McCullough, one of Indian Land’s two representatives, made the final motion to deny the request and it was passed on a 4-3 vote.
The decision means Wilkerson will now have to apply for the rezoning himself on behalf of McClancy and submit his proposed business plans sometime in 2016. Lancaster County is in the process of rewriting its zoning laws and Wilkinson can’t proceed until that process is complete.
Meanwhile, residents celebrated the decision.
“I’m very happy that the council denied the application, but it was certainly a close vote,” Melissa Williams said.
“I know it was a difficult decision for them and I’m glad a few of the council members focused on the issues the approval would have brought and changed their votes from the initial readings.”