High five in Warwick Township

By on October 26, 2016

Rock Lititz Hotel gets OK for height increase

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The up-and-coming Rock Lititz Hotel will now be able to have five floors.

At the Oct. 19 meeting of Warwick Township Supervisors, the allowed height for buildings in the campus industrial zone was increased to 65 feet. The regulations previously allowed for a height of 45 feet, which was not quite enough to build the five-story hotel.

The hotel certainly won’t be the tallest building on the Rock Lititz campus, just north of Lititz, off Route 501. The existing studio, which received a special exception to accommodate its height several years ago, stands 100 feet tall.

Even though the new hotel can now aim a little higher, planners are designing it on the same footprint, allowing for a first floor restaurant and lounge that will be open to the public. There will be four floors of lodging (136 to 138 rooms). Access to the hotel will be from Tollgate Road to Rock Lititz Boulevard. The main entrance to the building will be from the west side, facing the rest of the campus.

“The difference in height will allow us to have more square footage using the same footprint,” said Jim Wenger of Derck & Edson, who presented the plan for Rock Lititz. “We do not know if we will need the full 65 feet.”

Supervisor Michael Vigunas was quick to note, “It’s still 35 feet lower than the Big Black Box (the nickname locals often use to refer to the Rock Lititz Studio).”

Rock Lititz agreed to a modification of its Transferable Development Rights (TDRs), which allow for developers to protect farmland and other natural resources by redirecting development that would otherwise occur on these resource lands to areas planned to accommodate growth and development.

In exchange for the height difference, Lititz Rock will add one extra TDR to the agreement with the township. The TDR program enables landowners within valuable agricultural, natural and cultural resource areas to be financially compensated for choosing not to develop some or all of their lands.

The new hotel represents the next phase in the development of the 96-acre campus of businesses serving the live event industry. Rock Lititz Properties is partnering with developer and hotel operator Arc One for the hotel. Arc One owns and operates more than a dozen hotels in the central Pennsylvania market.

The Lititz Rock Hotel will cater to production crews and artists, as well as local businesses and tourists. The hotel will enable Rock Lititz to provide on-site overnight accommodations for their clients’ technical talent and support staff.

The photo to the right shows the new addition, looking east toward Lititz from Picnic Woods Road.

The photo to the right shows the new addition, looking east toward Lititz from Picnic Woods Road.

Rail Trail Chugs Along

In other news, the newest extension of the rails-to-trails path through Warwick Township is set to open in November. This leg of the trail crosses East Newport Road and runs to Picnic Woods Road. A crosswalk with bright white striping will be installed at Newport Road.

When complete, the full eight mile trail will link downtown Lititz to downtown Ephrata. The multi-municipal partnership includes Warwick Township, Lititz Borough, Ephrata Township, Akron Borough and Ephrata Borough. Warwick’s next phase will connect Picnic Woods with Meadow Valley Road in 2017, then connecting to Ephrata Township.

“We have worked with some 66 property owners along the way,” noted Warwick Township manager Daniel Zimmerman, adding that the former rail bed trail property was purchased by an individual who owned it for 35 years, then sold it to the township.

The trail crosses through woods, fields, agricultural land and streams, with the goal to be non-intrusive to adjacent properties along the way. Since it opened, the partially-completed trail has been popular with walkers, runners, bicyclists and dog owners.

Full completion is scheduled for 2018, but that will require successful negotiations with Norfolk-Southern, the railroad company that still owns the Lititz leg of the trail.

Laura Knowles is a freelance reporter who covers the Warwick Township municipal beat for the Record Express. She welcomes comments and story tips at lknowles21@gmail.com.

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