This article was funded by LebTown donors as part of our Civic Impact Reporting Project.

Over 100 people showed up to the Cornwall Borough Council’s Monday meeting, with nearly every seat taken and some people standing. Many of them, it seems, came to hear firsthand about development planned for the land around the former Cornwall iron banks.

In May, more than 400 acres of Cornwall Borough property was purchased by Cornwall Properties, an LLC connected with Byler Holdings, owners of Iron Valley Golf Course and numerous other ventures in the area.

Google Maps imagery showing the Cornwall quarry. Recently, more than 400 acres of land surrounding the quarry was purchased by an LLC connected with Byler Holdings, owners of Iron Valley Golf Club, which is visible towards the bottom right of the image. The iron banks date back to the early 1730s when Peter Grubb discovered that there was iron, and likely a lot of it, in the area’s foothills. The quarry began to take on its current inundated appearance with the diluvian arrival of Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972.

At a meeting of the Cornwall Planning Commission on July 5, Byler Holdings had presented two potential plans for the land, which had previously been targeted by construction engineering company Haines and Kibblehouse for a $300 million development that was derailed by a sticking point with PennDOT over securing access from Route 322 to the site. At that meeting, the planning commission advised the company to take the plans to the borough council.

Read More: Byler Holdings LLC seeks to build warehouse, hotel, residences at quarry

At Monday’s council meeting, Michael Swank, director of operations for Byler Holdings’ real estate arm, explained two conceptual scenarios for the bottom right segment of the property, marked “GI” or General Industrial in the zoning map below. The plans have not been finalized and no approval was sought at this point.

Part of the zoning map published by Cornwall containing the lots detailed in the plans. Byler Holdings owns the segments zoned General Industrial (GI) and Limited Industrial (LI).

Scenario #1 utilizes most of the land zoned for limited industrial use for various warehouses (a permitted use in a limited industrial zone), with a combined square footage of around 700,000.

Trucks would access and exit these warehouses through Boyd Street and Route 322.

Should the first scenario be selected, the area zoned general industrial could still be used for a rock-crushing plant, asphalt plant, concrete plant, or some other uses in the future, as is guaranteed to the developers by right.

“We don’t feel that warehouses around the lake make a whole lot of sense, so we looked at a potential second scenario that might be possible,” said Swank.

Scenario #2, in order to be put in place, would require borough cooperation to rework permitted uses and zoning requirements.

Essentially, Byler Holdings seeks to change the area now labeled general industrial to limited industrial, while using the now-limited industrial zone for various forms of housing.

With it, the land now zoned general industrial would be used for a roughly 800,000-square-foot warehouse, while the land now zoned limited industrial would be used for a hotel, two apartment buildings, several townhomes, around 50 duplex units, and around 40 single-family residences.

Truck traffic would be directed toward Route 322 using an access road, which would require a permit from PennDOT. However, Swank said that PennDOT has told Byler Holdings that the possibility would likely be entertained.

If not permitted, truck traffic would use borough roads. An inability to secure access to Route 322 from PennDOT had previously stymied H&K’s plans to construct a mega-development on the site, which would have included hundreds of homes, a major hotel, 30,000 square feet of commercial space, a water park, and a marina.

Haines and Kibblehouse once planned a $300 million development for the land surrounding the Cornwall quarry, but ultimately faced insurmountable hurdles from PennDOT in terms of providing direct access to the site via Route 322. Note the main entrance indicated to bottom right.

As part of the second scenario, Byler Holdings would also develop a bypass around Miner’s Village connecting on both ends to Boyd Street.

“We would like to proceed in one way or another in the relatively near future,” Swank said, stating that at this point, Byler Holdings is looking for feedback from the council and the community about both scenarios.

As no plans have been officially proposed, the council did not offer many opinions on the scenarios, needing more time to consider the pros and cons.

After a few public comments, planning commission chairman Raymond Fratini emphasized that Byler Holdings is entitled by law to develop this property. The best path forward, he said, is to work closely with Byler Holdings to develop a plan that works for both the developers and the residents of Cornwall.

“I learned what we have to do is we have to cooperate and work together for the betterment of the borough,” he said. “This man has a right to develop his property, so what I’m gonna do with the P&Z is work with him, to try to make it work for both of us.”

Raymond Fratini, chairman of the planning commission, addresses the crowd regarding the development.

The meeting was over two hours long, and much of this time was dedicated to Cornwall residents voicing their questions and concerns. The overall message, which rang through the majority of public comments, was disapproval particularly of scenario #2.

Several citizens voiced the need for an ad hoc committee similar to the one developed with H&K, which led to 50 considerations that were bound into law being established with H&K. Essentially, the township worked with H&K to accomplish both of their goals.

Toward the end of the meeting, Bruce Conrad made a motion to begin putting together an ad hoc committee that reports directly to the P&Z. The motion passed with a mixed vote, with some members feeling that they should wait for a P&Z recommendation.

The committee will be made up of two council members, two members of P&Z, two community members, and representatives of Byler Holdings. The board is now seeking letters of interest for the ad hoc committee.

In other news, the council:

  • Unanimously agreed to authorize Jeff Steckbeck to complete a recreation fee study, to evaluate what would be a reasonable recreation fee other than the current fee of $1,250.
  • Unanimously agreed to a minor property swap between the Cornwall Inn and the police station.
  • Unanimously approved the minutes of their June 13 meeting.
  • Unanimously approved various reports.
  • Heard several complaints of obscene stickers posted various locations in Springhill Acres and urged residents to immediately report these incidents to the police, as thus far they have only received two reports.
  • Heard concerns about brake retarder lines and violations.

Cornwall Borough Council meets the second Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. These meetings are open to the public and do not require prior registration.

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Full Disclosure: Steckbeck Engineering & Surveying, Inc., is an advertiser on LebTown. LebTown does not make editorial decisions based on advertising relationships and advertisers do not receive special editorial treatment. Learn more about advertising with LebTown here.

Emily Bixler was born and raised in Lebanon and now reports on local government. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and going for hikes.