Share This Page

Rewrite of Dormont's 'outdated' zoning code in works

| Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Dormont has little open property to develop and just 0.7 square miles of land, and officials and planners there hope a revamp of the borough's 20-year-old zoning code and map can steer redevelopment and new businesses to the right spots.

“We have an outdated code that hasn't been addressed in 20 years,” said borough Manager Jeff Naftal. “We have a need to make sure that higher-density development goes near higher-density roads and lower-density development goes near lower-density roads.”

The borough began last week with a public workshop on the proposed zoning code rewrite, which would expand the number of zoning districts to eight from five by adding new definitions for civic and transit-oriented districts, and splitting the commercial class into small-scale local commercial districts and larger, busier urban commercial districts.

Local Commercial District would apply to most of the existing West Liberty and Potomac Avenue business corridors, except for the north end of the Potomac business district. That would be zoned for transit-oriented development, and both ends of West Liberty at the borough's borders would be zoned as Urban Commercial District for taller, denser buildings.

Naftal said the proposed new regulations would help steer small, locally oriented businesses to the commercial core of the borough, while larger, high-traffic businesses such as car dealerships would be kept at its edges.

The new, transit-oriented development zoning, where new buildings would be a minimum three stories and a maximum 90 feet tall, would apply to just two areas: the lots south of the Dormont Junction T station; and the blocks surrounding the Potomac Avenue T station.

Dormont and the Port Authority are negotiating a lease with Fore Property Group for a proposed 240-unit apartment complex and parking garage on the Dormont Junction parking lot. The borough's newly updated comprehensive plan calls for denser development and redevelopment surrounding the Potomac Avenue station, as well.

The areas zoned for apartments would remain mostly the same as the current R-3 zoning, following the north side of Broadway Avenue, Potomac Avenue north of the light-rail line, the blocks between McNeilly and Arkansas avenues and the McFarland Road corridor. Naftal said the proposed regulations would give property owners more flexibility in what they can do with their homes.

Naftal said the borough was still seeking feedback through its website, boro.dormont.pa.us. Another public workshop will be scheduled before the end of September.

“Things such as the proliferation of pawn shops and businesses that citizens find unseemly can only be controlled through properly written zoning ordinances,” said Council President Bill McCartney. Once Dormont has settled on proposed changes, officials can delve into specifics such as which types of buildings and businesses are allowed in each district or how properties must be developed and maintained, McCartney said.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.