BLOOMING GROVE TWP. –An advisory committee has been proposed to make improvements to “Downtown Lords Valley,” the growing commercial area along Route 739 concentrated primarily south of Interstate 84. Blooming Grove Township Supervisor Tim Morey , made the proposal at their Jan. 18 meeting, suggesting that upgrading the “curb appeal” would help attract customers and be good for everyone.
“I’m sure everyone sees the same thing as me when we drive the 739, and it’s just not appealing,” Morey said. “It looks run down, things are not uniform. It’s something that bothers me, it’s something that I really want to try to solve this year.”
He proposed creating a “739 District Advisory Committee” that would include some business owners from 739 or Blooming Grove. “Together, as a committee, come up with ideas on how we can clean up the 739 business district, maybe make things a little more even.” He said he wanted to work with business owners on what he added would not be a quick problem to solve.
“I think if it was cleaned up and had a bit more appeal, businesses would do better, property values would be higher, and all the businesses in that corridor would have more customers.”
Supervisor Tammy Gillette commented that it was a good idea, as long as it is not a financial burden on business people given the difficulties they are experiencing. Morey agreed, adding that they might be able to find grants to help pay for the upgrades.
President Nick Mazza said he understands that it’s more a way to regulate future development than to hurt someone who’s already there.
Attorney Stacey Beecher said the township may need to pass a resolution, depending on the role supervisors play on the committee. Mazza said he thought it would be as a committee liaison.
In a later interview, Mazza said they were looking at both appearance regulations as well as what uses are appropriate or should require conditional approval, but only for future business. He said they would like commercial properties to remain “clean and presentable”.
An advisory group, Mazza said, brought together business owners as well as township residents who have moved here, many of whom bring different experiences from other areas. He said he felt most eager to protect the city’s image.
Business owners on Route 739 who want to participate in the committee, Mazza said, should send the township a “light, written” letter indicating their interest.
Pike County Commissioners have identified the Route 739 corridor in Blooming Grove, Dingman and Delaware townships as the fastest growing section of the county. It stretches 19 miles from Route 6 in Blooming Grove Township to Route 209 in Delaware Township.
Robert “Diesel” Palumbo asked if this advisory committee had anything to do with the proposed amendment to the Signs Ordinance. Mazza said no, but it sparked a discussion about signage on the 739.
Morey said they may consider an order in the future. “Everybody’s been to cities where all the signs match. You can’t get off 739 and tell everybody they’re going to have to change signs,” Morey said. “It’s financially costly, but I’d like to see a bit stricter signaling codes for future businesses.”
“Most cities are working diligently to protect especially the center or core of their city,” Mazza commented. “It’s the first thing you see when you come to town. You know, it’s an old saying, you only get one chance to make a first impression.”
He stressed that they would like to look to the future and have reasonable standards. There are a few large plots in this corridor that are for sale. Mazza used the example of an earlier proposal to go out to a recycling center on 739 just off I-84. He said he thought there were areas more suitable for a business like this.
At the supervisors’ workshop the previous week, they discussed potential changes to the Signs Ordinance in more detail. However, any decision will have to be taken in public session.
Hemlock Farms, the large private community that has its main entrance at the heart of the 739 shopping corridor, wants to put up new signs and has asked for a change to what they would be allowed under the current order.
Mazza said Hemlock understands any changes made would affect signage regulations for other planned communities, which fall under a subsection of the township’s signage ordinance.
A new sign is proposed for the entrance, and a new sign for the building just behind listing the businesses located there. Hemlock Farms also has a few “significant” plots on 739 where the community board wants to put up a few signs, one for each direction, listing the businesses they own.
Mazza said these requests were not unreasonable. These two signs would be tall and vertical. Going south, we would go before the Walgreen Pharmacy. The sign visible for drivers heading north is almost opposite the Weis Mall.
Carol Comando said Hemlock Farms landowners had already voted to approve the concept, before the proposal was made to the township board of supervisors.
Morey agreed that what Hemlock Farms was proposing was a good idea and would be done well. Morey said the changes that would be made to the regulations are “minimal” and would only affect signage provisions for planned communities rather than all businesses in the 739 corridor.
The Blooming Grove Township office can be reached at 570-775-6461. The address is 488 Route 739, Blooming Grove, PA 18428.
The next supervisors meet on the first and third Mondays at 6 p.m. and have been accessible for the past few months both on Zoom and in person at the township building.
This article originally appeared on Tri-County Independent: Advisory group eyes Rt. 739 Commercial Section Upgrade