What is the most frequent question that residents ask us?
Give up? It’s this: Why doesn’t Cranberry bring in a Taco Bell? Almost as frequent are questions to the effect of why does the Township bring in so many banks, or hotels, or drug stores? After all, who needs them? Good questions.
Years ago, when the Township developed its planning vision for the Rt. 228 Corridor, some folks disparaged our plan as the “Disney Plan,” probably because it was so other-worldly, at least in their eyes. Of course, I can understand the confusion between Cranberry Township and Disney World. After all, we are each magic kingdoms in our own ways.
In our case, however, that vision called for retail, residential, mixed-use and office space. That vision was translated into zoning regulations designed to conduct business in an appealing environment, and it was brought to realization by individual business and property owners. The Township can’t say no to another bank just because we don’t think we need one. That’s up to the market to decide. And besides, the property is privately owned. The owners have the constitutional right to develop that property within reasonable regulations adopted by the Township, consistent with state and federal law. If the business succeeds, great. If it fails, too bad. In either case, the role of local government is limited to making sure its ordinances and building regulations have been followed.
Townships in Pennsylvania are permitted by state law to enact zoning regulations. If they do, they must provide for every use, even if it’s one that may not be well accepted by the public, such as sexually oriented businesses.
If Cranberry Township owned all the property within its jurisdiction, we could invite or exclude whoever we pleased, at least within limits. But the Township doesn’t own the land. So unlike Disney World and their company-owned community, Celebration, Florida – an arrangement by which the company can develop it pretty much as it pleases – Cranberry is obliged to follow the laws of Pennsylvania. And Mickey is welcome to join us.
I’d welcome your thoughts about how we zone for business. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org