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South Middleton Township

South Middleton zoning board approves variances for work at former WIOO station on York Road

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WIOO fire

Crews work to extinguish the January 2012 fire at the WIOO radio station in the 100 block of York Road in South Middleton Township.

The Zoning Hearing Board of South Middleton Township has approved a developer’s application this week for variances at the former operation site of a local radio station destroyed by a fire in 2012.

Previous operations for radio station WIOO were located in a converted house at 180 York Road in South Middleton that has remained vacant since hit by an electrical fire nearly a decade ago. Since then, the damaged structure has remained boarded in accordance with township code regulations, said Tim Duerr, the township’s director of community development/zoning officer.

Since then, the radio station has relocated to its present site at 728 N. Hanover St., operating under several AM and FM frequencies throughout the area.

On Monday night, South Middleton’s Zoning Hearing Board approved variances requested by applicant Harold Swidler, who seeks to build a 3,200-square-foot commercial building and raze the existing structure. The developer has no definite plans for occupancy of the proposed building but it is limited to “professional offices and retail,” Duerr told The Sentinel on Tuesday.

The zoning board approved both requested variances, one of which overrides a municipal code requiring a 50-foot minimum setback from a street right-of-way in the township’s commercial suburban zoning district. Swidler was granted a variance for “as close as 30 feet to the right-of-way line,” according to the township’s hearing notice.

The other approved variance reduces the number of required parking spaces for the property from 18 to 15.

The next step would be for the developer to apply for a conditional use hearing headed by the township’s board of supervisors.

Airport

In other news, the township has scheduled a public hearing at Thursday’s board of supervisors meeting to “consider a proposed plan of financing” for the township’s purchase of Carlisle Airport that is expected to close Sept. 30. The hearing starts at 6 p.m. at the township building, 520 Park Drive.

On July 29, township supervisors approved a resolution authorizing municipal borrowing “to provide funds for the township’s capital project consisting of the acquisition of Carlisle Airport and construction of improvements to the airport.”

The resolution authorizes the township to accept a related 25-year loan proposal from F&M Trust of up to $7.15 million to fund the acquisition of the airport, construction of planned improvements and sale closing costs. South Middleton must borrow funds to complete the purchase despite receiving state grant money because property acquisition requires “all money down,” township solicitor Bryan Salzmann said last month.

In March, township supervisors unanimously authorized a bill of sale for $3.5 million on the township’s behalf for the acquisition of the airport at 228 Petersburg Road. Last month, board members approved a second amendment to the agreement of sale that reduces the township’s cost to $2,881,069.70 due to confirmation of a $3 million grant it will receive from PennDOT’s Bureau of Aviation for the purchase.

South Middleton plans to use $500,000 in municipal 2021 American Rescue Plan Act funds to partly finance the cost of planned hanger/terminal construction, as well as requesting $1 million in ARPA funds from Cumberland County to help fund taxiway construction.

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