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New Kensington considers new zoning classification

| Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, 1:16 a.m.

New Kensington's planning commission is considering establishing a new zoning classification to permit low-impact businesses on Carl Avenue near Tarentum Bridge Road.

Commission Chairman Richard Bruni on Wednesday outlined for city council the proposal that could change three Carl Avenue properties from residential to commercial.

Bruni said chiropractor Ronald Festa would like to use two lots near Taco Bell for office space and a parking lot. Bruni said Dr. Festa would use one of the existing houses and tear down the other for parking.

Bruni said that request gave the planning commission an opportunity to review the zoning of another Carl Avenue lot beside Giovanni's Pizzeria that is being used by Thomas Tours & Travel.

Bruni said an error occurred years ago, allowing the travel business to operate in a residential zone.

Rezoning the three properties would allow them to “conform with reality” and surrounding commercial properties, Bruni said.

However, Bruni said several Carl Avenue residents protested changing the zoning during the commission's September meeting.

Bruni said neighbors had concerns about increased traffic, noise, lighting and litter.

Bruni doubts whether the chiropractic and travel businesses would have much of an impact on traffic since most clients would access them from nearby Tarentum Bridge Road and not travel past residences on Carl.

And many of the noise, lighting and litter complaints stemmed from existing businesses in the area, not necessarily the ones at hand.

Bruni said rather than simply rezoning the properties as traditional commercial zones that could permit more high-volume businesses to move there in the future, the commission is considering creating a more restrictive commercial zone that would limit the properties' use to low-impact businesses.

“We're trying to balance (the neighbors') concerns with what we think is the best use for these lots,” Bruni said.

Bruni said the commission is not interested in rezoning any more residential Carl Avenue properties farther west toward Valley Street.

The commission wanted to present the idea of a new zoning designation to council before moving forward.

Council offered no objections. Bruni asked that if officials have concerns or suggestions, they forward them to the commission before its meeting on Tuesday, when the issue will be discussed again.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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