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Residents of Ward 3, Gettysburg, and others – Your input is needed

The Borough Council was asked to consider a change to the zoning ordinance for the Elm Street Overlay area, which lies between Middle Street and South Street, and between Franklin Street and Court Alley (the Methodist Church) on West High Street. (See map) This area has been dubbed “Olde Getty Place”. The change request is referred to as “S. English zoning text amendment request”.

Debra and Scott English have owned the house at 68 W. High Street since December, 2020. They plan to operate a bed and breakfast on the property, which is an allowed use under the overlay zoning. They propose to have a “Special Events Venue” added to the list of uses, so they can host events indoors and outdoors, 7 days per week, with 75-100 guests per event on the weekends. There is no specified limit on number of events per day. The proposed activities would include: “hosting of community gatherings, educational events, historically interpretive functions, family weddings, art shows, parties, bridal showers, culturally significant assemblies, and other similar events where large groups of people are gathered, generally involving food, drink, and music.”

Potential impacts of this change for the neighborhood would be noise, traffic, competition for parking, foot traffic, tourists, smoke, and general disruption of peaceful enjoyment of residential properties.

Hours of operation would be from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. It is not clear how restrooms would be provided – maybe porta-johns. Scott English has stated that he will have an agreement with the Methodist Church for parking on weekends, but it is not clear what would happen if the church has a wedding, funeral, church services, etc. Bussing guests from the parking garage or from the Debra and Scott English home property in Freedom Township have also been mentioned. Traffic would affect streets beyond the Elm Street Overlay area.

The application also proposes to do away with the 2,000 s.f. maximum size limit for non-residential buildings.

In a nutshell, Elm Street is a state program created to support neighborhoods near downtown areas that often suffer from neglect, often adjacent to a Main Street program. A state-funded Plan was created by a consultant in 2007, with lots of public input, suggesting appropriate uses within the neighborhood. Then the Borough put uses into the zoning ordinance that reflected the neighborhood scale and magnitude, e.g. day care, small restaurant, restaurant without drive-thru, bank without drive-through, bed and breakfast, home-based business, museum, etc. It also included minimum square-footage for a business within an existing building (think Mom’s Coffee Pot size) and a maximum size of 2,000 s.f. for non- residential buildings. Under the auspices of the Interfaith Housing Agency, the Elm Street program provided money for exterior rehab of some buildings, created a historical walking tour, held cleanup days, and community events. The program has not been active in recent years, but the zoning ordinance Elm Street Overlay is in effect.

At Borough Council meetings to date, there have been statements or letters of support for the use of the “English House” as a bed and breakfast, and/or as an event venue. Most of this support has come from people who are not residents of the neighborhood or Gettysburg. They love the historic house, they think having a tourist attraction would be a great addition to the Elm Street neighborhood, and a help to bed and breakfasts outside of the area – something for their guests to do. Not much consideration has been given to how local residents would be affected by this tourist attraction.

If you are concerned about the effects this additional use could have on the enjoyment of your outdoor living space, parking, noise, etc., please let your council member know – or all of them. Or better yet, attend a meeting in person.

If you would like to watch the meetings where this was discussed, go to www.communitymedia.net/category/gettysburg-borough meeting dates 2/14/ & 2/28/2022.

Editors’s note: Gettysburg Connection has reported on this topic.

You can fast forward through unrelated parts of the meeting if you wish.Contact information for Borough Council members is below. You can contact just your ward representatives, or all of them.

NameTitleWardPhone/ Email
Wesley K. HeyserCouncil PresidentOne(717) 850-8210 WHeyser@GettysburgPA.gov
Matthew (Matt) MoonCouncil Vice PresidentTwo(415) 505-4092 MMoon@GettysburgPA.gov
Patricia A. LawsonCouncil MemberOne(717) 578-3298 PLawson@GettysburgPA.gov
Chris BergerCouncil MemberTwo(717) 339-7151 CBerger@GettysburgPA.gov
John LawverCouncil MemberThree(717) 324-1685 JLawver@GettysburgPA.gov
Judith (Judie) ButterfieldCouncil MemberThree(717) 337-0724 JButterfield@GettysburgPA.gov
Chad-Alan CarrCouncil MemberAt- Large(717) 334-1160 ext. 222 CCarr@GettysburgPA.gov

The proposed S. English zoning text amendment will be on the Monday 3/28/2022 workshop meeting of the Gettysburg Borough Council, 7:00 p.m. at the Borough Office. Please consider attending.

Rosemary Meagher, W. High Street                                                                                                     

Susan Cipperly, Gettysburg Resident

The map shows an outline of the Elm Street Overlay in red, R-2 Residential zone in green, and Old Town OT zone in tan. Yellow lines show property lines. Check marks are locations of non-residential uses observable on a drive-by basis.

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Susan Cipperly is a retired professional planner who has lived in the Gettysburg for 24 years. She considers her involvement in local planning and zoning issues a way to contribute to the borough in general, and to maintain neighborhoods in particular.

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