Published Date Written by Dan Miller
Londonderry Twp. residents are encouraged to attend a public hearing at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 2 regarding changes to the township’s agricultural zoning ordinance that would give farmers more flexibility in opening a side business on their land.
The hearing will be held in the township building, 783 S. Geyers Church Road.
The changes mostly concern secondary commercial businesses that farmers can have on their farm, said township Manager Steve Letavic.
For example, under the current ordinance, a dairy farmer can have one side business on his property, like a vegetable stand. But the ordinance does not allow that farmer to have a second small business, such as making and selling his own cheese on his farm. The proposed changes would allow the cheese business.
The proposed changes also would allow the farmer to have side businesses like a cabinet shop or repair shop that can provide additional income year-round, Letavic said. Limits in the current ordinance are a hindrance when the secondary business – say, a vegetable stand – only operates part of the year.
The ordinance has safeguards to prevent “the springing up” of commercial ventures all over the township, Letavic said.
For example, side businesses would only be allowed on the primary farmland property – the “parent tract of ground,” as Letavic refers to it. A farmer would not be allowed to subdivide and split off lots just to operate a side business.
The intent is to preserve the township’s agricultural character, yet give farmers more options for added income so they don’t have to give up farming.
The proposed changes are based on input from farmers, Letavic said. The township also utilized input from its engineer, solicitor, planning commission and a consultant from Urban Research and Development Corp., a land planning firm from Bethlehem.
The changes also incorporate input from township residents at previous public hearings.
The township plans to update all of its zoning ordinances, LetaviC said. Starting with the ag district made sense, in that 84 percent of township land is zoned agricultural, he said.
Letavic does not expect supervisors to act on the changes Tuesday. Supervisors will take some time to consider input from the hearing, and act on the proposed changes at a later public meeting.
The text of the proposed ordinance can be found on the township’s Web site, http://londonderrypa.org/#gsc.tab=0