Officials hear debate on car lot

The property in question is the site of a former BP gas station.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- City council might delay taking action on a zoning change request that could pave the way for a proposed used car lot on Highland Avenue.
Council did not vote on the matter at its business meeting Thursday. Christine Sands, council president, said council could consider the proposed zoning change next month or postpone taking action until later this year.
Paul Lynch, who owns the property at 502 Highland Ave., addressed council at a hearing earlier this week.
Lynch said there is someone interested in leasing the property and establishing a used car sales business at the site. The property, which is currently zoned a transitional district, needs to become a commercial district before proposed business is allowed operate there. The property is the site of a former BP gas station.
The city's planning commission previously approved the zoning change request but the final decision is up to council.
Arguments against the lot
Meanwhile, about a dozen North Hill residents, who were also at Tuesday's hearing, asked council to put the zoning request change on hold.
Those residents argued that placing the proposed business along Highland Avenue would interfere with the atmosphere of the area, which is considered a historic district.
"I am not against selling used cars," added Shelly Merk. "But for our area, for the North Hill, it is very inappropriate. We need to look at preserving the area.
"There are many places this gentleman can put a used car lot. ... I don't want it in my neighborhood."
Some residents asked council to put off its decision on the zoning change request until after the city's comprehensive land use plan is finished.
But Lynch told council it makes no sense to prohibit a commercial business in an area that is already commercial.
He said his property is surrounded by commercial zoning districts.
"No one wants to preserve the North Hill more than me," he said. "I was born and raised there and it's been this way as long as I can remember."
He said he would rather see a business established at the site than to have his property continue being vacant, as it has been for many years.

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