HERMITAGE Officials to consider changes in zoning

A study group has been formed to determine if some change is advisable.
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- The city may be willing to make some changes in its new sidewalk and landscape rules for commercial and industrial areas.
"I think the board is willing to listen," Gary Hinkson, city manager, said Thursday after a Hermitage Economic Development Commission work session on the topic.
However, there isn't much interest on the board in repealing the entire ordinance as some business people and others attending the workshop requested, Hinkson said.
Recent problem: The new zoning regulation went into effect in July 2000, but it didn't draw much attention until a company putting a new development into the former Stambaugh's store along the Shenango Valley Freeway earlier this year was required to build a 400-foot-long sidewalk along the freeway, with no links to any existing walkways.
That prompted a lot of complaints from businesses, particularly small businesses, which would be faced with the same expense if they undertook major renovations or erect new buildings.
Hinkson said complaints about requiring people to build sidewalks that lead nowhere and requiring some expensive landscaping work -- such as curbing and shrubbery screening around all new or expanded commercial and industrial parking lots -- formed the basis of many of the concerns voiced at the workshop.
He said the Economic Development Commission and the Hermitage Planning Commission will look at how the ordinance requirements impact businesses and come back to the city board of commissioners with some recommendations for changes.
Part of that study will also deal with how the city can link existing sidewalks with new walkways in a more timely fashion, he said.

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