Gettysburg Planning Commission considers proposed event venue ordinance

The Gettysburg Planning Commission considered Tuesday evening a proposal from the Borough Council to create an ordinance that would allow event venues in several zoning districts across the borough.

The commission acts in an advisory role to the Borough Council and will share its findings with it.

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Saying event venues with outdoor activities and events have a greater likelihood of impacting neighboring homes and businesses than other traditional business and civic uses, especially in a small-town setting such as Gettysburg, the commission recommended the council allow individual event venue applications to be determined via special exception issued by the zoning hearing board.

The commission said this procedure, rather than allowing the use “by right”, would help ensure a future proposed project met all the criteria in the ordinance, plus additional requirements if deemed necessary for public health, safety, and welfare. The procedure would also provide a forum for owners of potentially-affected properties to give input.

The commission also made recommendations about the current proposal, including:

  1. retaining the 2,000 square foot limitation on non-residential uses in the R-2 portion of the Elm Street Overlay, to protect the neighborhood scale and character.
  2. Revising or restoring limits on allowed days of the week, and how late operations/noise could take place for outdoor activities to minimize impacts (these were in earlier drafts of the ordinance.)

In public comments to the commissioners, speakers:

Noted that the events venue ordinance, as written, would insert a large commercial use into the Elm Street Overlay District, which is a densely-built neighborhood surrounding West High and South Washington Streets, where residents would be affected by noise, traffic, and crowds.

Questioned why this ordinance would insert a large commercial use into the Elm Street Overlay while, in another matter, the Council is planning to remove 49 Colt Park properties from Tourist Commercial zoning to protect the residents.

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