Shopping complex expansion on hold Blockbuster and Fashion Bug out, pizza and Mexican food chain in

By on January 23, 2013

By: GARY P. KLINGER Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

Perhaps in the future there could be a Shoppes of Kissel Village East, but that future is not now.

Warwick Township Supervisors were asked by the operators of the current shopping complex, which houses Target and Giant, to consider modifying the township’s Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map and Growth Area Map to accommodate the expansion. The proposed complex would sit on about 32 acres of the Buckwalter family-owned Buckhill Farm directly across from the existing Shoppes at Kissel Village.

Alex Peel of RGS Associates, a Lancaster land planning and engineering firm, was on hand to present the request at the Jan. 16 supervisors meeting. Peel was representing the owners and operators of The Shoppes at Kissel Village, R.J. Waters and Associates.

"The proposed Shoppes of Kissel Village East would almost mirror on a smaller scale the Shoppes of Kissel Village," he said. "There would be four pad sites along Lititz Pike and the project would be done in two phases."

Peel explained that the project would have access points at Lititz Pike, Peters Road and Millport Road. The existing barn would remain intact.

"We want to discuss a modification to the urban growth boundaries along Lititz Pike," added Peel, who said talks with the township began over a year ago. "We would look to ask for rezoning consideration in the future. Just to be clear, it is just the Comprehensive Plan we are looking to change. We know rezoning and conceptual plans will still need to be submitted for consideration."

Currently, the tract in question is zoned agricultural. RGS and Waters were asking the township to change it to community commercial for the purposes of expanding the commercial options available to residents of the area.

Meetings have been held with both the local and county planning commission with regard to the project. At the end of November, township manager Dan Zimmerman issued a letter to the Warwick Township Planning Commission regarding several concerns raised by township staff.

Among the eight concerns raised, Zimmerman cited the potential impact on the township infrastructure. He also said that with the recent addition of a new commercial zoning classification (local commercial) that the request would compete with the current initiative. The township is also seeking to balance development on both the north and east end of Route 501. Granting the change would challenge and compete with that initiative.

Another concern raised by township staff was the initiative to not compete with the Lititz downtown area. The proposed new development could do just that. And the township questioned whether the timing was right when there are currently a number of other initiatives already underway. Further, the township questioned whether since the tract was in such close proximity to the airport, it might be wiser to consider rezoning the tract campus industrial instead.

Peel addressed each of the concerns raised in the Nov. 29, 2012 letter but was unable to sway the collective opinion of supervisors.

"The main feedback from the planning commission was not a ‘no’ but not right now," conceded Peel. "We certainly agree with this. It is a delicate balance. But in order to have a vision for down the road we needed to present a plan, understanding that it would take five years to work through the various stages of planning and development."

The process of bringing Target to Lititz took between seven and eight years. Peel pointed out that for his group to wait for the next Comprehensive Plan, it would realistically be into the 2020s before this project could get underway. According to Peel, the tract lends itself more to a retail use than an industrial use, adding that there is still a good inventory of campus industrial land available in the area.

"Just because it’s not included in the Comprehensive Plan, they could still come back later to ask us to consider rezoning," commented supervisor Mike Vigunas. "If we pigeon hole this to one particular type of zoning, then you are kind of locked in with what can be done there. I am not convinced what would be good to be there. We’ve talked in the past about what we can do to utilize an underutilized area in the airport. Light industrial development could use some of the available land at the airport."

Vigunas also expressed a concern that the township not begin to resemble the heavily congested area where the outlets are located along Route 30 East.

Zimmerman added his thoughts to the discussion.

"This area has not been competition to downtown, but you have to consider as you develop more, you can begin to pull from the downtown area," he said. "We have been trying to distribute some of the development so it’s not all in one end of town. We’ve always built things, then taken the pulse reading, then consider the next phase. Planning is not saying no, but we don’t feel it would be the correct thing to do now. We want to grow and diversify, but your infrastructure has its limits."

Other supervisors, likewise, felt the timing was off on such a change.

"My personal feeling on this is that there has to be a really good use of that property, but I’m not convinced this is necessarily the time for this," stated supervisor Herb Flosdorf. "I could not support going forward with a commercial shopping center."

Board Chairman Logan Myers pointed out that the township has always had a good relationship with the Buckwalter family and with R.J. Waters and Associates.

"But we are not doing this for this group or that, but for the good of the township," he said. "So we have to be cautious when we do these things, and that’s why we go by the strategic plan. This board now seems to be saying let’s work together on something viable and let things develop as they will."

In related news, representatives of R.J. Waters and Associates updated the supervisors on a number of businesses located in the current complex.

"We are at 100 percent turnover," said Artie Waters. "Fashion Bug as a chain is going out of business with the Rainbow shops taking over. Blockbuster Video will be leaving, but a pizza chain and Mexican chain are coming in.

Waters also said there was some progress toward developing the as-yet undeveloped pad site in front of the new Target Store. He said his group was in talks with a small restaurant chain which he said he could not yet name. He did however say that while typically the chain retrofits existing buildings for their business, estimates were being collected on the cost of a newly built restaurant for the site.

"They are very excited and bullish on Warwick," Waters said, indicating that plans could be before the township as early as February. More THE SHOPPES, page A3