Cumru Township sign

CUMRU TWP., Pa. – More mixed-use projects could soon be coming to Cumru Township now that a new zoning district has been approved.

Township commissioners held a public hearing Tuesday night to accept public comments and consider amendments to the township zoning ordinance of 2009 to create a new Mixed Use and General Commercial (MUGC) Zoning District and to make certain technical corrections to the zoning ordinance.

The area to be rezoned runs on both side of Lancaster Avenue, from the border with the borough of Wyomissing south, to the intersection area with the Route 222 expressway, and again further south along the east side of Route 222.

The ordinance states that the purpose of the MUGC zoning district is to encourage and promote well-planned, suitable and appropriate mixed-use developments with residential and commercial components. The focus, it says, is to allow a more balanced mix of uses, to provide for the diverse needs of the residents of the township and to allow developers the flexibility to accomplish such goals without sacrificing the existing image and character of the surrounding neighborhood.

Commissioner Chip Bilger explained that the rezoning was needed to create more areas with mixed use which combine retail, commercial, office space, apartments, condominiums and single-family homes. One such example of this is the Flying Hills development in the township.

"Mixed-use is trending across the nation," Bilger said. "We need this because Berks is falling behind Lancaster and Lehigh counties in developing attractive and affordable housing stock."

Bilger also noted that township commissioners would have final approval on all projects.

Commissioner Sam Kalbach, responding to an audience question, said that an unnamed developer has expressed interest in starting a project if the ordinance is passed.

No resident expressed opposition to the ordinance and it passed by a 5-0 vote.

Other business

After the public hearing, the board held its regular meeting, during which Police Chief Madison Winchester and Township Manager Jeanne Johnston swore in as police lieutenants James Griffith, an officer with 23 years tenure on the force, and George Kuriger, who has 20 years of experience with township police.

Winchester also reported that 46 fraudulent unemployment compensation complaints had been filed recently, including four police officers and one commissioner. Solicitor Michael Setley commented that he had received two fraudulent checks, which brought laughter from the audience.

The commissioners granted 11 waivers to the subdivision and land development ordinance in accordance with the developer's waiver request letter for 665 Fairmont Avenue, located at the south side of Fairmont Avenue and Old Lancaster Pike.

Also, the commissioners granted a waiver of land development planning for an accessory structure at 672 Old Lancaster Pike, as well as a partial waiver of subdivision and land development planning for Wingate Terrace, retaining authority with respect to sanitary sewer and stormwater as it affects land in the township.

Johnston informed the commissioners that the sewer rate increase passed in February would become effective with the August billing cycle. The increase was necessary because the City of Reading increased its sewer treatment rate to Cumru by 12%. Bills will increase from $119 to $125 for a minimum metered bill and from $166 to $174 for an unmetered bill.

Also, Johnston informed the commissioners that work to install a traffic signal at state Route 10 and Freemansville Road will begin in August.

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