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New Kensington council rezones 2 Carl Avenue properties

| Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 12:31 a.m.

New Kensington council on Tuesday rezoned two properties on Carl Avenue, allowing them to join the commercial Tarentum Bridge Road corridor.

The rezoning was prompted by New Kensington chiropractor Ronald Festa, who owns two adjacent houses near Taco Bell at 768 and 764 Carl Avenue. Festa previously told the city's planning commission he wanted to use the two lots for office space and parking.

After Tuesday's council meeting, Festa said his plans still were in flux, and he couldn't immediately provide details on when or how he'd change the properties.

He said he likely will demolish the deteriorating house at the corner of Carl and Tarentum Bridge Road, which has been vacant for several years. He has owned the property since 2010.

Westmoreland County deeds records indicate Festa bought the neighboring house last summer.

City Clerk Dennis Scarpiniti said the corner property was zoned for commercial use; it was Festa's second property that was rezoned on Tuesday.

Council rezoned 763 Carl Avenue, a residential property across the street from Festa's lots that is owned by Jack and Linda Bellone, according to county records.

City officials previously said an error occurred years ago that allowed the building, currently occupied by Thomas Tours & Travel, to be used as a business, even though it had residential zoning. Tuesday's rezoning brings the building's use up to code.

The planning commission had been considering whether it should establish a new zoning classification for the Carl Avenue properties that would permit only low-impact businesses to reduce the possibility of traffic and disturbances for the neighboring homes.

Scarpiniti said the commission ultimately recommended the standard C-2 general commercial district zoning.

Commission Chairman Richard Bruni in November told council some residents had expressed concerns that extending the commercial zone farther up Carl Avenue could result in increased traffic, noise, lighting and litter.

No residents nor anyone from the planning commission spoke at a public hearing on the rezoning on Tuesday.

Bruni previously told council he doubted the chiropractic and travel businesses would have much of an impact on traffic, because most clients would access them from Tarentum Bridge Road and not travel past the houses on Carl.

He noted much of the noise, lighting and litter complaints stemmed from existing businesses in the area, not necessarily the ones involved in the rezoning.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

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