Wednesday, May 14, 2008

City Council Approves New Streetscape Design Standards

The Lancaster City Council gave final approval to a plan for a downtown "Streetscape District," at its meeting, Tuesday night.

The ordinance "set[s] standards for what the streetscape should look like" by implementing , and directing all future development within the district to comply with, certain design requirements, including brick-banded sidewalks, lighting, and planting.

"The main purpose of the ordinance," said Public Works Committe Chair Tim Roschel, "is to aid in improving the visual quality of the city."

Roschel explained that the Streetscape District encompasses an area bounded by Lemon, Prince, Farnum, Church, and Duke Streets.

"It's a streetscape design within a small downtown business district," he explained.

The total cost of the project is expected to be approximately $3.5 million dollars, according to the City's Director of Public Works, Charlotte Katzenmoyer.

Katzenmoyer said that several federal and state grants are available and that ultimately the city's share of the cost will be 60% or $2.1 million.

This money has already been allocated in the form of a bond under the city's capital projects funding, she explained.

At their next meeting, the Council members are expected to approve an application to the Lancaster Higher Education Authority on behalf of Franklin & Marshall College for a $30 million in bonds in order to construct a new residence hall and for other purposes.

Keith Orris, F&M's Vice President for External Affairs said the college expects to have the new residence hall ready to go by 2010 but acknowledged that the College still needs to find a way to provide housing for the estimated 210 students who are living off-campus.

F&M's proposal for a "student housing overlay district" was withdrawn earlier this year after a torrent of negative public reaction.

Orris said that the search for a solution is going forward, but refused to give a time frame as to when a new proposal will be put forward.