QUESTION: Several privately owned landmark properties in Hellertown, such as The Movies and the former Champion spark plug factory, have been vacant for a number of years. Many community members have expressed hope that they will be saved/redeveloped. Recognizing that there are potential obstacles, is there anything the borough can do to help that happen? How does the borough see the properties in the context of the local economy and the future of the Rt. 412 corridor?
ANSWER: Encouraging redevelopment of these sites to expand business opportunities along the Rt. 412 corridor remains a priority action that is outlined in the Multi-Municipal Comprehensive Plan. As recent as mid 2012, the Borough of Hellertown amended its zoning ordinance to create a Flexible Redevelopment Overlay in the Highway Commercial zoning district and certain parts of the R-2 and Mixed Use districts. The purpose of the FRO is specifically to permit and encourage flexibility in development and to encourage reinvestment and redevelopment. The intent is to allow for the use of vacant and underutilized land and buildings through the use of flexible development and redevelopment standards and compatible architectural design. Other actions taken by the Borough include adding a Trail Oriented Overlay to much of the Industrial zoning district. The TRO allows for additional uses to facilitate trail-oriented and trail compatible uses.
Recognizing the importance of the redevelopment of these properties, as well as the overall health of the local economy, Hellertown Borough Council will work with economic development agencies to support development of innovative incentives and financing that will stimulate and promote private innovation for the reuse of these properties.
Photo: Hellertown Borough Manager Cathy Kichline (file photo)