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Lansdale Borough Looking into Rezoning of Old American Olean Tile Property

Tony Di Domizio

Thursday, August 21, 2014 • 5:23pm

The 116-acre Stoltz tract at the end of Cannon Avenue at West Eighth Street in Lansdale – which also borders Moyer Road and Schweiker Park – may be headed for a zoning change in the near future that would bring mixed-use, higher-density development to the parcel.

Lansdale Planning Commission solicitor Joe Clement reported Monday that the borough is kicking around the idea of rezoning the property at 1000 N. Cannon Ave. for some time.

“Subsequent to that, they have had a discussion with property owners, who are very interested as well,” Clement said. “With the development SEPTA has planned, it makes sense to plan now for what the future of the site will look like.”

Clement said Hatfield Township officials are very interested in making the parcel one contiguous zoning district.

The property, 20 acres of which lies in Hatfield Township, who shares it with Lansdale, was the former home of American Olean Tile Co. It is now owned by North Penn Holdings LLC and Lansdale Holdings LLC – aka Stoltz Real Estate Management, per Montgomery County land records.

Freedom Properties purchased the property in 1998 for $9.9 million, per Montgomery County land records. It transferred ownership to North Penn Holdings and Lansdale Holdings in March 2014, according to land records.

The idea is to rezone the entire industrial-zoned property to mixed-use residential and industrial, Clement said. Such a high-density development would allow stacked townhomes, he said.

If a zoning change goes through, it would not be a map change or overlay district change, but a text amendment to the ordinance to make it streamlined and allow the mixed use via a conditional use approval, Clement said.  

“This is one of the larger tracts of land in the industrial zoning district. There are other tracts in the borough which may benefit from a text change,” Clement said.

Director of Community Development John Ernst said industrial zoning would be the base district.

“Industries can still come to Lansdale and set up shop,” Ernst said.

Clement said the rezoning discussion was prompted by the planning commission, as a few members recognized the parcel was not as feasible for development as it once was.

“By doing this,” Clement said, “if someone wants to develop it as residential use, they do not have to go through a zoning change.”

Planning Commission Vice Chairman Kevin Dunigan liked the idea because the conditional use stipulation would give Lansdale the ability to put conditions on the development.

Clement compared the rezoning process to a similar process that occurred for Andale Green on Hancock Street, across from Stony Creek Park.

Resident Jean Fritz said, if the rezoning happens, someone could develop 50 of those acres with nice homes, but it leaves residents with a view of industrial buildings.

“They could be looking out their living room at some big mess,” Fritz said.

Clement said that could happen, in theory.

“We would be pushing the edge of where the meeting of industrial and residential is,” Clement said.

“With a huge tract of land in a borough this size, it’s amazing that it hasn’t been developed yet,” he said. “At one point, the tract was zoned to be residential. In 2006, it was turned back into industrial. That’s what set off all litigation.”

Clement said now is the time to revisit the site and look at the possibility of a residential area, especially with the Ninth Street train station possibly going on the site.

“We will start drafting a text amendment plan,” Clement said.  

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