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Buffalo planners oppose rezoning former Dugout Bar site

| Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, 1:26 a.m.

The Buffalo Township Planning Commission has recommended that township supervisors deny a developer's request to rezone the former Dugout Bar site near the Freeport Bridge.

“We came to the conclusion that the best thing for the township was to just maintain agricultural zoning in that area,” said Ray Smetana, commission vice chairman. “There's nobody else in there who would benefit from anything that we would do.”

It could open up the township to other such requests for what township Supervisor John Haven called “spot zoning.” Spot zoning is illegal.

Supervisors delayed making a decision at least until their Oct. 9 meeting in order to confer with the township's attorney and engineer.

Real estate developer Brian Clark of Harrison said he plans to buy the 2-acre parcel but hasn't determined what to put there. He did not attend the meeting and did not respond to a phone message.

Clark would like to erect a billboard on the property, but the signs are only permitted in a manufacturing district; the former Dugout property is zoned agricultural.

He requested that the township rezone the area to a designation not currently part of the township's zoning: B-4-bridge access business district.

“We want him to have a business there,” Haven said. “But it has to be something we can do throughout the township.”

The board is open to the possibility of rezoning the area as an M-2 manufacturing district. The township would first need to hold a public hearing on the zoning change before a vote is taken.

“I would hate to see anyone discouraged from building there,” Supervisor Ron Zampogna said.

The former Dugout property is surrounded by property that is zoned M-2, officials said.

Clark previously said he wanted to open a business that would take advantage of Butler-Freeport Trail users.

Officials said it's possible he could build some type of convenience store, which is permitted in both manufacturing and agricultural districts.

A previously discussed “overlay zoning district” that would allow billboards is not an option, officials said.

That's because the underlying zoning would be agricultural, and PennDOT forbids billboards along certain roads in an agricultural district, planning commission officials said.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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