Land Use Reform

On January 25, 2023, the Land Use Reform Subcommittee was formed to evaluate the items considered by Borough Council through a comprehensive review of the adopted policies and land use regulations. The Subcommittee includes members of Borough Council, the Chairs of the Planning Commission and Zoning Hearing Board, the Borough Manager, and the Sustainable Community and Economic Planning Director. 

Below you will find more information on some of the initiatives the subcommittee is working on. Updates will be added as the subcommittee continues its work.
I-1 to UM: The Frog, Switch & Manufacturing, Co. tract
Reduce parking requirements for dwellings
Expand access to shared parking
Fee in lieu of paking
Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

Helpful Resources

I-1 to UM: The Frog, Switch & Manufacturing, Co. Tractzoning map with north middleton - Copy
The closure of the Frog, Switch & Manufacturing Company in the summer of 2023 presented a timely and unique opportunity for the subcommittee and Borough staff to evaluate reuse activities that best serve the needs of the surrounding neighborhood and support the Borough as a whole. The site was originally in the General Industrial zoning district (I-1), which allowed manufacturing, truck terminal, warehouse, and distribution uses. Borough staff and the subcommittee recommended to Council that the site be changed to Urban Mixed Use (UM), requiring a broader range of land uses, including residential, non-residential, and open space. The mixed-use zoning would also be similar to the zoning for the adjacent land in North Middleton Township.

A community survey on the topic showed strong support for the idea. 85% of the respondents were in favor of the zoning district change from General Industrial to Urban Mixed Use. 

frog witch survey results
Comprehensive Plan
The best planning practice is to adopt zoning ordinance standards that a current Comprehensive supports. Carlisle's most recent Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2012 and updated in 2019. The plan only addresses the "general industrial" land use activity associated with Frog, Switch Manufacturing. Along with the zoning ordinance amendments, a resolution was proposed to amend the Carlisle Borough Comprehensive Plan.

Official Action Taken
On December 14, 2023, Borough Council adopted an ordinance amending the Code of the Borough of Carlisle, Chapter 255, by amending the Zoning Map Through Rezoning Specified Parcels to UM Urban Mixed Use Housing. The resolution to update the Comprehensive Plan was also approved at the December 14, 2023 meeting.
View the Original Zoning Map
Rezoned Parcels

**Dickinson College student Natalia Uro De León created a presentation on this matter, titled "Sustainable Revitalization: Reimaging & Rezoning the East High Street Corridor in Carlisle, PA. View the presentation here.**

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Reducing Parking Requirements for Dwellings
The sub-committee is also reviewing parking standards for land uses and looking for potential reforms. Vehicle parking reforms can improve the efficiency of the local housing market, reduce regulations that require lot consolidation and demolition for parking, encourage infill development where parking is underutilized, remove barriers to the reuse of existing buildings for dwellings, and induce the latent demand for small scale housing in all neighborhoods.

The first proposed reform is a modest adjustment to the parking requirement for dwelling units. According to the Zoning Ordinance, a Dwelling Unit is "A living area comprised of more than one room used for living and sleeping purposes and having its own kitchen with fixed cooking, refrigeration, and plumbing facilities, and its own sanitation facilities with bath and toilet fixtures, all arranged for occupancy by one family or a single person. Each dwelling unit shall have a separate access to the outside or to a common passageway."

A text amendment to Article XXV Off-Street Parking and Loading was proposed, reducing the number of vehicle spaces for all dwellings. The current ordinance requires multifamily dwellings to provide 1.5 off-street parking spaces plus 1 parking space for each additional multifamily bedroom. Under the current ordinance, single-family homes and townhouses must provide 2 off-street parking spaces. This amendment reduces the number of off-street parking spaces 1 per dwelling unit with one bedroom or less and 2 parking spaces per dwelling unit with two or more bedrooms..

Official Action Taken
On December 14, Borough Council adopted the proposed ordinance reducing minimum parking requirements for dwellings.

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Expand Access to Shared Parking
The subcommittee is also recommending that the allowable distance to shared parking be increased. Currently, Section 255-203 of Article XXV Off-Street Parking and Loading states that "one or more parking lots may be designed to service a multiple number of commercial uses... provided that all such parking is on the same lot or within 300 feet of walking distance from the subject use." A proposed amendment increases the allowable distance to 1,500 feet from the principal use.*

Increasing this distance can open up more opportunities for shared parking. Shared parking can potentially reduce development costs, provide more land area for other uses, and reduce congestion. 

We have an interactive Shared Parking Map that provides a basic analysis of shared parking facilities to any destination along lines of public access at 300-foor, 750-foot, 1,000-foot, and 1,500-foot increments. View the map here.
Shared Parking Map Example

Official Action Taken
On March 14, 2024, Council approved a proposed ordinance amendment that increases the allowable distance between shared-use parking lots for any principal use in all commercial zoning districts (C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, and C-5), Urban Mixed Use District, R-4 Town Center District, and R-5 Traditional Residential District.

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Fee in Lieu of Parking
The subcommittee is looking at adopting a fee in lieu of parking minimums for developers. This option would provide the Borough with funds to manage public parking demand while encouraging infill and the reuse of existing buildings.

Work is still ongoing on this reform and no official action has been taken as of yet.

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Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
An accessory dwelling unit is defined as "a dwelling unit subordinate in size to the principal residential structure(s) on a lot and located either within the principal residential structure(s) on a lot and located either within the principal residential structure(s) or in an accessory structure. ADUs can include a basement apartment, an apartment over the garage, or a stand-alone house in the backyard. The graphic below from AARP illustrates several different types of ADUs.

adu examples

The Land Use Reform Subcommittee is recommending a text amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to allow one ADU on properties with existing lawful residential uses that do not count towards density limits provided there are no inappropriate physical changes to a building that are visible from a public street. 

Work is still ongoing on this reform and no official action has been taken as of yet.

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Helpful Resources
Land Use Reform Subcommittee Six Month Progress Report (July 2023)

Carlisle Borough Interactive Map

Carlisle Comprehensive Plan

Carlisle Zoning Ordinance

Carlisle Urban Redevelopment and Carlisle Brownfields Area-Wide Plan

Climate Action Plan

Truth and Reconciliation Resolution

Vision Zero Resolution

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