‘Tannery Place’ plans proposed

BY PAT FARNELLI

A local business owner plans to develop a former printing facility in downtown Montrose to be used by several businesses. The plans were discussed at Monday’s Montrose borough council meeting.

Joseph Hunt of ESE Equity presented several conceptual renderings for “Tannery Place,” the former Montrose Publishing building at 498 South Main St., which his company plans to renovate and develop as a commercial building with multiple businesses under one roof.

Facade and entrance renovations are already completed or are underway, he said.

“It is too big of a building for any single use,” Hunt said.

For the building’s anchor, Hunt said Leatherstocking Gas Company has made a verbal commitment that they intend to take a space there once utility services have been installed in the borough and they are metering gas usage in town.

Several other smaller businesses are also interested in renting space. Hunt said that the building will be likely broken into 800 square foot spaces for the other occupying businesses. Hunt said that since there aren’t a lot of load bearing walls within the structure, walls can be installed almost anywhere, dividing the large space as tenants required.

Hunt’s company JHA Associates was hired last month by council for zoning and codes enforcement. The necessary permitting for the project would be deferred to another entity.

“I have brought with me a copy of the commercial uses section of the zoning code for rental space…it says that multiple occupant commercial is a conditional use,” Hunt said.

Two representatives from NEPA Community Health Care also attended the meeting and expressed an interest in taking a space on the south end of the building for a federally qualified health center entity.

“This is not Obama care,” said Mary W. Wetherall, R.N, who is CEO of the health care agency, presently headquartered in Susquehanna.

Our focus is on women’s and children’s needs, on bringing health care into areas of high need,” she said. “We intend to become a health care provider of choice, not of last resort.”

Wetherall said that the agency also contains the WIC nutrition program for women, infants and children up to age five. She said that since the Endless Mountains Health System has moved out of town, there is no longer a health care provider that borough residents can walk to.

“In the last 30 days, two WIC clients gave birth in cars on their way to a hospital,” she said. “Eventually, we would like to have a small birth center.”

He said that the company plans to begin renovations in July.

Regarding the parking lot area behind the building, Hunt said that barn and wood recyclers are coming to look at the barn in back, which will be razed, and the site converted to usable parking.

Councilman Sean Granahan asked Hunt to talk to Ken DiPhillips, because the borough owns a sidewalk in the parking lot area. Hunt said that DiPhillips had already provided him with a survey plan performed 10 years ago, and with that the survey pins set were located. Hunt said the sidewalk area is probably within the increased parking lot area.

The borough’s zoning protocols are currently a work in progress, and a packet is being prepared, with permits and other documents assembled into folders. It was said that great strides have been made in the past two months.

The Act 13 Impact Fee allocation of funds was listed as a discussion item, but so far, none have been received for 2014. 2013 was the first year that Montrose Borough received the Act 13 funding.

Road conditions on Lake Avenue and Route 29 were described as “deplorable” by Council President Tom Lamont. It was noted that many motorists are driving on the wrong side of the road to avoid potholes. More than one council member said that PennDOT work crews were patching on Route 29 North earlier in the day.

Anyone wishing to file a complaint about the state roads should write to James May, Community Relations, at the Dunmore division of the PA Department of Transportation, it was noted during the meeting.

The borough advertised for bids on the police department’s old Explorer, and the only received bid was opened. After some discussion, council voted to accept the bid of $500 from Justin Lawrence.

Dan Calby attended the meeting to discuss his proposal for a deer management program. This may include an ordinance banning the feeding of deer within the borough limits. The borough’s solicitor will need to review such an ordinance.

Mary Jo and Mark Carlton attended the meeting to discuss a zoning matter regarding their retail business, Carlton’s Country Home and Gifts. Mary Jo Carlton said that three years ago, she went through the process of getting their store approved, but then a gentleman at the council meeting told her that the ordinance was outdated and took the permit out of her hands.

She asked if the residential area had been expanded, as was being discussed three years ago, and was told no, it had not, except in the area around the former EMHS buildings.

She said that a local attorney’s request is currently being considered by the zoning hearing board.

Councilman Sean Granahan said that the Carlton’s should watch for public notices by the zoning hearing board. “They will ask for an interested party,” he said, “and you could voice your opinion. Then that board makes a decision or opinion, and that is what gets appealed.”

The new, updated zoning ordinance has more or less eliminated spot zoning. “Zones are what they are,” Granahan said, but we cleaned up some areas.”
During the accounts receivable section of the agenda, it was noted that there has been an increase in parking meter money collected.

The police report by Dale Smith included a request to replace a bulletproof vest that has reached its five year old age limit. Council approved the purchase of a new vest at about $700-800.

Also, with the increased popularity of the Chocolate and Wine Festival, there is an increased need for police officers on foot around town. This year, police were patrolling until 7:30 p.m.: that needs to be extended until about 8:30 p.m. next year, Councilman Todd Chamberlain said.

Ken DiPhillips said that he attended a PA One Call course that was very informative. “Any time you break sod, you have to make that call,” he said.

Craig Reimel said that DiPhillips and his workers were a big help in the construction of the skate board park. He said that a ramp and pipe have been installed, and a less intimidating ramp for novice riders.

There was an executive session to discuss personnel matters near the end of the meeting.

When council reconvened, a motion was made to terminate John Walker from the Montrose Borough Police Department.

The council will not have a second meeting in June. Reimel said that he may have bids ready for the park restrooms by the first July meeting.