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Planning Commission wants town to create institutional zone

(12/6) The Emmitsburg Planning and Zoning Commission would like to see an institutional zoning category created in the Town of Emmitsburg. The commission voted 4-0 to include a recommendation for such zoning in the comprehensive plan they are preparing to send to the mayor and town commissioners.

“We do need to add something in the comp plan addressing institutional zoning,” Planning Commissioner Patrick Joy said during the Nov. 26 planning commission meeting. “We did designate land using that.”

Mayor James Hoover said later that he doesn’t expect the details to be worked out for institutional zoning to be completed before the comprehensive plan is approved so he noted that, “Some of their recommendations could be a little premature.”

Land that is currently used for institutional purposes—the Basilica of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the Emmitsburg Community Building, etc.—is zoned open space. Institutional zoning would better define how the land would be used.

The planning and zoning recommendation, written by Joy, includes civic and governmental institutions, public and private schools, nursing homes, performing arts centers, museums and retreat/conference centers. The zoning would also allow for ancillary uses that directly support the institutional use. One example of this would be allowing university housing for staff, faculty and students to also be zoned institutional, though it is residential in the way it is used.

The recommendation will be included in the comp plan that the planning and zoning commission will send to the mayor and town commissioners. They then have the option of keeping it, deleting it or modifying it for inclusion in the final comprehensive plan.

“It’s a reasonable recommendation,” said Hoover. “We’ll have to consider the pros and cons. My guess is that it will be several months, if not a year down the road, before we’ll decide.”

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