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Oakmont weighs zoning changes to accommodate shops at Edgewater development

| Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, 12:46 a.m.

Plans for retail shops the Edgewater at Oakmont housing development are on hold while borough officials contemplate making changes to Oakmont's zoning ordinance.

On Monday, officials approved changes to its mixed use zoning category that allow dry cleaning outlets, health and fitness businesses and financial institutions, as conditional uses, in the area where Edgewater at Oakmont is located.

The developer wants retail stores to be allowed in the area.

Officials also held a public hearing regarding a possible new restaurant in the Edgewater plan.

Oakmont resident John Keefe, owner of nearby Carnivores Restaurant on Allegheny Avenue, said he has plans to open a sit-down, upscale restaurant within the development. The new restaurant — Keefe declined to disclose its name — would be located on Allegheny Avenue.

Keefe said it would not be a sports bar, and it would be family-friendly.

“Our focal point is good, different food and pleasant ambiance,” he said. “It will be upscale and run more like a fine dining establishment.”

Council has 45 days to approve or reject the plan.

However, Bruce Corna, vice president of Edgewood Properties, said officials need to consider revising the mixed use zoning ordinance even more.

He said retail establishments — possibly including a grocery store — would not be allowed in the mixed use district despite council's changes. Corna said the development's approved 40,000-square-foot commercial site plan includes proposals for a grocery store and other shops.

Corna said that while plans are in the works for Keefe's restaurant, a fitness center and a bank, all are allowed within the mixed use district as a conditional use.

But Corna said he also has letters of intent from other retailers, including Edible Arrangements, Sherwin Williams, Super Cuts and Quest Diagnostics.

None of those businesses are permitted under current zoning laws.

“It's very difficult to negotiate the leases when you don't have the right to have the business there,” Corna said.

Kacin representatives asked council to discuss the matter as soon as possible because the project must be put on hold until they receive answers.

“Without retail, there won't be a small grocery store or small shops,” Corna said. “The project can't move forward. … We can't build this building without the leases.”

Borough officials said the amendment for the mixed use ordinance went before the planning commission, and despite talks about adding retail to the language of the ordinance, the commissioners didn't include that in their recommendation to council.

Council will hold a special public meeting on Sept. 30 to discuss the matter.

Councilman Tim Milberger said officials would touch base with the planning commission before the meeting.

They invited representatives of Edgewater to attend, as well as adjacent developers Brooks & Blair, because its future development — located adjacent to Edgewater at Oakmont — will be within the effected zoning district.

Heidi Dezayas is a freelance writer.

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