UNION TOWNSHIP Commission: Keep yard requirements
The supervisors are scheduled to vote on the proposed recommendations next month.
By MARY GRZEBIENIAK
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Union Township Planning Commission has recommended that township supervisors do not reduce minimum side yard requirements for businesses locating next to private homes in the U.S. Route 224 commercial corridor.
The planning commission members were unanimous in agreeing the proposed reduction from 50 feet to 25 feet for businesses abutting residences in the B-2 district does not provide enough protection for residences or meet fire and safety concerns.
They stated, however, that if supervisors ignore the recommendation and reduce the side yard requirements anyway, they only reduce them to 30 feet -- the same as in B-1 or neighborhood business districts.
The planning commission only has the power to recommend.
The proposed zoning amendments will go to supervisors for a vote at 6 p.m. Sept. 11 in a special meeting at the township municipal building. A vote was to be held on these and another amendment Wednesday, but the supervisors' office said Monday that the meeting had been canceled due to lack of a quorum.
John Seaborn, commission member, said these and other proposed zoning amendments are now all on the agenda for Sept. 11.
Bad for business: Contacted earlier this week, township consultant Linda Farris said the reason for the proposed amendments is that the current side yard setbacks are prohibitive to commercial development.
For example, a 125-foot lot in the Route 224 business district, which extends from Scotland Lane to Parkstown, would currently need two 50-foot side yards, which leaves only 25 feet for a building.
Farris said the proposed change "gives a reasonable side yard to already-existing homes and at the same time encourages commercial growth."
The problem is how to protect homes that were there before the B-2 district was established while encouraging commercial development, she added.
During the winter, a proposed 24-hour car wash to be located between a residence and the AT & amp;T building on the north side of the highway drew protest from neighbors. The car wash was ultimately turned down by the zoning hearing board, mainly because it could not meet side yard requirements.
Commission members said the car wash could probably meet requirements if the proposed zoning changes are passed.
Working together: Commission Chairman Les Shannon said he wishes the supervisors had discussed the proposed change with the planning commission, which he said is the usual procedure. He added that the supervisors have, in the past, abided by the planning commission's recommendations although they are not required to do so.
Members also tabled for further work another proposal by supervisors to add car washes to uses permitted by special exceptions. They want car wash defined and criteria stated for locating them in the township.
Commission members did give a favorable review to some other proposed amendments to be considered Sept. 11, including changing the special exception and conditional-use side yard requirement from 25 feet to 10 feet in residential suburban areas.