Neighbors oppose Indian Land animal shelter proposal

joverman@fortmilltimes.comOctober 2, 2012 

— Nathan Dills comes home from work at the end of the day and likes to sit outside.

“The traffic dies down and it’s relaxing,” he said.

Pointing across the street, he marks the spot where the sun goes down.

“I watch it, right over there,” he said. “It’s peaceful and quiet.”

Dills and more than 20 of his neighbors on Barberville Road and nearby Ola and Harrisburg roads are worried that the peace and quiet won’t last long. Across the street from their neighborhood, a rezoning effort is underway to turn a residential property into a thrift store and animal shelter.

Gloria Davey, with Paws in the Panhandle, owns the property and holds monthly yard sales there, with proceeds to benefit the animal rescue group.

Rezoning the three-acre property would allow her to open a thrift store that could draw in more customers and, potentially, more money for the rescue group. She also has plans to build an animal shelter, the first “no kill” shelter in Lancaster County.

Van Storie said rezoning the property from residential to business would “set a precedent” and could lead to other rezonings. He said he worries that his residential community would rapidly become over run with businesses.

“It opens the door,” said Jack Patterson. “Once you let something in, everything else follows.”

Right now, the majority of Barberville Road is residential except for a landscaping business and a nearby church.

Neighbors say the landscaping business is quiet and there is little traffic caused by it. The company has its entrance and exit on Harrisburg Road.

They also wonder what would happen to Davey’s property if the thrift store and animal shelter didn’t pan out or she decided to sell the property. Once it’s rezoned to B2, a zoning district that allows small commercial centers, “It could become anything,” Storie said.

“It could be a strip mall.”

Traffic is another concern, they said. Barberville Road is already a heavily traveled cut-through from Indian Land to Pineville. On Saturdays when Davey holds yard sales, neighbors say the street is lined with traffic.

If a thrift store and animal shelter are allowed on the property, traffic could get worse, they say.

“This has been a residential community since so far back. What’s the rush to make this commercial? Look at the commercial mess on Hwy. 521. It’s an injustice to the people who live here,” Patterson said.

Davey argues that traffic will actually improve if she is able to open a thrift store.

“The yard sale cars will go away. When you only have one sale a month it’s a concentrated effort. It won’t be an issue once we rezone. All that would go away, and parking would be built,” Davey said.

At least four parking spaces would be required if the thrift store is allowed to open, and more parking spaces would be built when the animal shelter is complete, she said. Parking would be in the back of the property, she added.

Davey also operates a thrift store in Zimmer Business Park in Indian Land.

“We would not impact the traffic one iota. We’ve been in business two years at Marvin Road [in Zimmer] and if we have two customers at one time, that’s good for us. We’re not a Walmart,” she said.

The residents who oppose the rezoning are quick to point out that they are animal lovers, like Davey. Several of the neighbors have dogs and cats that were rescued and all of them say they believe that a “no kill” shelter in Lancaster County is important.

“We 100 percent believe Lancaster County needs a no-kill shelter,” said Kristin Storie. “But there’s a right place and a wrong place for everything.”

Some of the neighbors are in favor of the rezoning, Davey said.

I have letters from every adjoining property owner except one. So all of the adjoining property owners are the ones I asked because they’re the only ones who’ll be affected in any way,” she said.

The Lancaster County Planning Department’s recommendation to the council is to approve the rezoning because the property is adjacent to a business property and is shown on the Future Land Use Map as an area appropriate for a PDD, a development that includes residential and commercial property. The Planning Commission recommended denying the rezoning.

The Lancaster County Council will take up the matter Oct. 8.

Council Chairwoman Kathy Sistare said the council will be ready to hear both sides of the issue.

“We rely heavily on the residents to tell us exactly what they think needs to be done,” Sistare said.

The council previously tabled the rezoning while Davey answered questions about traffic, waste disposal and noise. When the matter comes up again on Oct. 8, they expect to have answers to those questions.

“She’s really done her homework. Her business plan is very nice, but there are still some questions,” Sistare said.

Indian Land’s representative on the council, Larry McCullough, has previously said he would support the rezoning.

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