Horsham Plans to Eliminate Airport Crash Zone
The Horsham Township Council introduced an ordinance to eliminate the Airport Crash and Noise Overlay District which officials said pertains specifically to planes flying to and from the former Willow Grove air base.
Calling it a logical step following the closure of Willow Grove air base, the Horsham Township Council again put the wheels in motion to amend zoning in the area immediately surrounding the former base’s shuttered runway.
The governing body voted 3-0 Wednesday to introduce an ordinance to eliminate the so-called ACNOD, or Airport Crash and Noise Overlay District and to remove development restrictions currently in place. Council members Andrew Santacroce and William Whiteside, who chairs the Horsham Land Reuse Authority and the newly formed Horsham Land Redevelopment Authority, were absent.
Township Manager Bill Walker said the governing body held off on adopting the ordinance last spring on the advice of the Montgomery County Planning Commission.
Now, with an airport out of the equation, the locally approved reuse plan in the hands of the federal government – and a final approval anticipated by month’s end – Walker said the district is “not needed anymore.”
Council President Mark McCouch said previously that the council had enacted the ACNOD in 1998 as a way to protect “and not shut down” the air base. The ordinance resulted from a Navy study, which outlined potentially dangerous areas, particularly in the event of an aircraft crash.
The Navy specified a safety zone, McCouch said, “we came in with the ACNOD and made it a bigger circle.”
Keith Valley Road goes through the existing ACNOD, which abuts parts of County Line Road, as well as Commonwealth National Country Club, Deep Meadow Park, Samuel Carpenter Park, Valley View Estates and Lakeside Youth Service. Park Ridge Industrial Park is located within the ACNOD.
The current ordinance designates three different zones – an “accident potential zone,” a “clear zone,” and a “high noise exposure zone” – and restricts development based on the severity of danger. For the most part, zoning allows for agricultural uses, parks and light industrial or warehouse uses. Banks, restaurants, hotels, churches and daycare centers are not permitted uses in any of the three zones, according to the ordinance.
If the ACNOD is eliminated, Walker told Patch previously that property owners within that district could have greater development possibilities.
“It lifts that zoning off those properties,” Walker said, adding that much of the land is deed-restricted and development could be limited anyway. “They don’t have all those restrictions.”
A public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 12 at 7:45 p.m. at the Horsham municipal building.