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McClatchy-Tribune  08/20/2014 11:17 AM ET
Developer lobbies for less parking spots [Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa. :: ]

Aug. 20--Hundreds of required parking spaces could be eliminated from a proposed major shopping center in Pocono Township without depriving shoppers of parking convenience, according to an analysis presented Monday on behalf of Sheldon Kopelson.

Kopelson proposes a 134,300-square-foot center on a 29-acre site on the northwest side of the routes 611 and 715 intersection in Tannersville. It would be a bit larger than the gross floor area of the Target store in Stroud Township and slightly smaller than the Mount Pocono Wal-Mart.

Kopelson wants to reduce the township formula requiring 7.9 spaces per 1,000 square feet of floor space -- or 1,061 parking spaces -- to 5 spaces per 1,000 square feet, or 673 spaces.

Parking consultant Tom Shepstone argued Kopelson's request still exceeds the 536 spaces (4 spaces per 1,000 square feet) recommended by the Urban Land Institute for a shopping center.

"We're really providing double what's needed most of the year and 40 percent more than what's needed during the holidays," Shepstone said.

Shepstone presented a report which examined available parking and estimated peak usage at several local shopping centers. It also incorporated findings of other studies of parking needs in the Lehigh Valley, other parts of Pennsylvania and suburban Rochester, New York.

The nearby Crossings factory outlets -- at 411,000 square feet -- has 2,169 parking spaces. Just 2,022 parking spaces are needed there during the peak hour of the busiest day in a given month, Shepstone said.

He based his estimate partly on an aerial photo of The Crossings taken early one Saturday evening in May 2012.

Pocono Township Commissioner Tom Felver said he often has trouble finding parking at The Crossings.

Shepstone said The Crossings is unique to the Poconos in that it markets to shoppers who live hours away. The Kopelson development will market to local shoppers.

Studies have shown that typical shopping centers -- offering a wide range of goods and services under one roof -- require less parking than a stand-alone store focused on one product, Shepstone said.

Felver said it is difficult to judge parking needs without knowing what retailer(s) will locate there.

"We don't know what it's comparable to," Felver said. "We don't know what it's going to be."

Kopelson shouldn't be expected to know what tenants will occupy his shopping center when it eventually opens, said Kopelson's attorney, Marc Wolfe.

"I think no landlord can tell you who the tenants are going to be forever," Wolfe added.

Most of the public questions Monday focused on fears the new center will produce more traffic problems on nearby roads. Township attorney Leo DeVito cautioned that Monday's hearing was confined to parking issues.

Once the number of parking spaces is determined -- probably next month -- Kopelson's overall project will be subject to a planning process with multiple agency reviews, DeVito said. It will require state Department of Transportation permits for road access, including turning lanes and stoplights.


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