Calling it a logical step in the impending closure of the , the Horsham Township Council put the wheels in motion Wednesday to amend zoning in the area immediately surrounding the base’s runway.
The governing body voted 3-0-1 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. Councilman Gregory Nesbitt was absent and Councilman W. William Whiteside – who chairs the Horsham Land Reuse Authority and will ultimately have a say in the base redevelopment - abstained from voting.
Council President Mark McCouch said after the meeting that the council would be looking to remove the ACNOD regardless of their position on future base development and whether or not those plans included an airport. At its last meeting, the council approved a and opposing further use of the runway.
“We would anyway because it really does apply to it being a naval base,” McCouch said of the ordinance. “Without a flying mission it makes no sense.”
McCouch said the council 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 , , , 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, Bill Walker said 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 June 8 at 7:45 p.m. at the .