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Ambler Council Passes Institutional Zone Amendment to Planning Commission

Ambler Borough Council voted unanimously to pass a proposed text amendment to the Institutional Zone, which will allow low impact business, to Planning Commission.

At Tuesday night's Ambler Council meeting, Councilmembers discussed a zoning text amendment to the Borough's Institutional Zone.

The Institutional Zone is for tax exempt and non-profit locations, such as schools, churches, hospitals, etc.

Mark Capuccio,an attorney representing Nick Burkholder, the owner of TMP Systems, Inc. and Buyer Topia Book Stores, Inc., said business offices are not permitted in the institutional zone except by conditional use. 

Burkholder is interested in moving his two businesses into the former St. Joseph's School building, which is in the Borough's Institutional Zone.

However, Capuccio added that there are no retail products sold from either of the two businesses. He stressed that both companies are software programming companies and all retail sales are done through an online system.

"No one comes to the building," said Capuccio, just the employees, he continued. He said business hours are 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and there are 10 employees total for the two companies.

"I think it's a win-win," added Capuccio. He said Burkholder likes the location because it is in downtown Ambler, near the train station, and it offers employment in the borough as the business expands. He added that the former school has been vacant for over a year and the church has not been able to lease it out.

Joseph Bresnan, Borough Solicitor, advised Council that "It is retail sales" even if there aren't people walking into the building. However, he said the Council could allow low-impact uses in the Institutional Zone to move with the times.

He also advised that Council can recommend for the applicant to go to Zoning Hearing Board for a Conditional Use on this property if they thought it was more appropriate.

The text amendment would affect all Institutional Zones, not just St. Joseph's School.

Council voted unanimously to send the proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance to Planning Commission.

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