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State College Borough Council Approves Downtown Master Plan

by on August 19, 2013 10:00 PM

The State College Borough Council passed the highly controversial downtown master plan Monday night by a 5-2 vote. Kathy Dauler, James Rosenberger, Peter Morris, Thomas Daubert and Ron Filippelli voted yes. Council president Donald Hahn and council member Sarah Klinetob voting against. 

One of the main points of contention with the master plan among borough residents has been the possible increase of building heights in some areas of State College. The master plan enables the possibility of structures as high as 14 stories or 114-163 feet. Currently, the tallest building downtown is Penn Towers on Beaver Avenue at 118 feet.

The 100 block of South Allen Street would also be redesigned to replace the pavement and sidewalks with paver stone, and would end up costing an estimated $ 1.3 million.

The master plan would also allow for new signs to be posted downtown to direct visitors to downtown attractions. The plan also includes a new slogan, "The best times of your life," as part of a marketing campaign for the downtown.

Council member Tom Daubert made it known before the vote that the plan that will serve more as a guide, and that as building plans come up council will still need to approve them as they come up.

Some community members, such as Elaine Shuckers, expressed concern that there weren't enough impact studies done to see if police and fire fighters will be able to keep up with the increase in population density.

State College Borough Manager Tom Fountaine said that impact studies would be done before ordinances specifically adopted.

Other residents, such as Taylor Greer, said they don't like the idea of more high-rises downtown.

"Some of us have a sense of the unknown," Greer said. "We now consider a downtown master plan that may be part of new horizon. It is a source of concern."

Also voted on at the meeting were the proposed amendments to the Commercial Incentive zoning district, which would allow the modification of zoning rules to accommodate a planned housing project at the intersection of South Atherton Street and West College Avenue, where the old Arby's was located.

The amendments were approved, with council members Kathy Dauler, James Rosenberger, Peter Morris, Thomas Daubert and Ron Filippelli voting yes, and council president Donald Hahn and council member Sarah Klinetob voting against.

A developer wants to build a high-rise building on the site of the old restaurant and two adjoining properties.

Also at the meeting, State College Borough Planning Commission Chair Evan Myers gave an overview of the commission's recent activity, bring up the issue of the unregulated rental properties in State College. Myers expressed his concern that certain properties do not have any regular tenants, and that this causes a safety issue for those who rent the properties.

These rental properties, commonly called "football rentals," are homes that owners rent out on busy weekends such as home football games.

 



Adam Lidgett is a freelance reporter who has covered news and feature stories in State College and Centre County.
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