This is an artistic rendering showing the street view of a mixed-used residence hall proposal rejected in September 2017 by the Easton Planning Commission. City officials, Lafayette College and residents were working in March and April 2018 to refine a new set of zoning rules geared toward permitting the project to move forward. (Courtesy image | For lehighvalleylive.com)
A community dialogue has resulted in a scaled-back proposal for new residence hall regulations adjacent to Lafayette College, Easton officials said Wednesday night.
The city in March unveiled a proposed new College Hill/Institutional 1 Transition Zone that would permit, without a special exception from the zoning hearing board, "a mix of residential and non-residential uses that will accommodate current and future College Hill and Lafayette College needs and amenities."
College Hill residents came out strongly against the proposal, calling it tailor-made to permit the mixed-use dorm rejected last September by the city planning commission in the area of McCartney, Cattell and High streets.
The planning commission last month voted against backing the new transition zone.
Mayor Sal Panto Jr. convened an ad hoc committee of city officials, Lafayette representatives and residents, resulting in a new proposal scheduled to be introduced by city council April 25. A vote would follow May 9.
"It’s definitely changed, I think for the better," Panto said following council’s meeting Wednesday night.
The new transition zone proposal narrows the scope of permitted uses, in response to residents’ concerns, said Stephen Nowroski, city zoning director.
It would still permit education uses and amenities open to students, staff, residents and visitors alike, Nowroski said.
As originally proposed, the zone would permit, without a special zoning exception, uses including multifamily housing; residential low-rise and mid-rise developments; mixed-used residential and business buildings; a mixed-use dormitory; eating and drinking places; retail specialty establishments; professional services; administrative offices and educational services.
The new proposal is still being drafted ahead of its introduction in two weeks, he said Wednesday.
Part of the goal in tweaking the scope of permitted uses is to quell neighbors’ concerns about classrooms encroaching off campus into College Hill, Nowroski said.
Once the transition zone is finalized, the city plans to address residents’ call to establish a boundary between Lafayette College and the neighborhood, Nowroski said.
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