HERMITAGE Committee looks at landscape law

Sidewalks are required for both residential and business areas.
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- The city shouldn't eliminate its requirement that new business developments put in sidewalks, but the city should help pick up that cost.
That's one of the key recommendations made to city commissioners Thursday by a committee set up to examine the controversial landscape ordinance that requires sidewalks in any nonresidential development.
The requirement extends to any major expansion of current businesses as well.
The city set up a committee with representatives of the municipal planning commission and economic development commission to look at the law after a number of businesses complained.
The committee came back with several suggestions.
Possibilities: The city should pick up half of those sidewalk costs, $15 of the estimated $30 per linear foot cost, and the offer should be made retroactive to the several businesses that already have had to comply with the ordinance, the committee said.
Further, the city should look at installing sidewalks in the central business area in segments, rather than let them be built piecemeal, and should offer the same 50 percent financial backing, the committee added.
Specifically, the committee suggested Route 18 from Morefield Road north, East State Street from the Sharon city line to Keel Ridge Road, Highland Road from the Sharon line to Route 18, Buhl Farm Drive from State Street to Highland Road and Glimcher Boulevard, FNB Boulevard and Kilgore Drive as sidewalk segments.
Hire help: The city should have an engineering study done to determine cost estimates and pinpoint any engineering problems that might be encountered in doing that work.
Finally, if a business locating or expanding in an area outside one of those segments so chooses, it should be allowed to delay building a sidewalk until the city is ready to move its sidewalk program into that area, the committee said.
Business would have to pay their share of the proposed sidewalk, $15 per linear foot, up front, however, the committee said.
City Manager Gary Hinkson said the commissioners accepted the committee's report with little comment.
They want to examine the recommendations and get a handle on costs before making any commitment to changing the ordinance, he said.

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