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Rezoning land to open space results in sale, citizens concerned

| Jan 1, 2014 | Land Use & Zoning |

Zoning laws are an important part of city and county development. They exist to ensure that only certain types of structures can be built in designated areas. When officials make the decision to change the purpose of a particular area, it is sometimes met with resistance. Recently, a protest in a Pennsylvania town was caused by the county’s plan for rezoning several areas as open space, but citizens are concerned about what will be done with the land in one place in particular.

The protests began when the Montgomery County board of commissioners decided to rezone public land as open space. This should mean that these areas are protected from being developed, so as to avoid crowding, noise and other unpleasant effects. However, the rezoning does not mean that the land cannot be sold, which is exactly what has happened to an area of 220 acres that is home to a geriatric facility. It was sold to a geriatric health care group that is headquartered out-of-state.

Citizens worry that the land surrounding the existing geriatric facility will be developed. For its part, the company who purchased the land has stated that they have no intention of developing it, yet citizens are reluctant to trust that the company will keep their word. Many residents feel as though they have been betrayed and that the board of commissioners was not completely honest about their intentions to sell the land. Several of them wonder if it will no longer be available for public use — seventy acres of the land is currently designated as a public park.

Rezoning laws can have both positive and negative impact for a community. The preservation of public spaces adds to the overall well-being of the citizens who live nearby. Development in areas that are close to residential zones can mean excess noise, pollution and general unpleasantness for those who would rather live in less commercialized spaces. The area in Pennsylvania that was sold may be left as is, as the company has promised, but the possibility exists that they will change their minds. If that occurs, citizens in the area may wish to seek the advice of an experienced real estate attorney to assist with this problem.

Source: thereporteronline.com, Protestors gather in Norristown to oppose Parkhouse sale, Dan Clark, Dec. 29, 2013

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