Leechburg considers changes to restrictions in historical district
Proposed changes to Leechburg's zoning ordinance could give businesses in the borough's historical district more leeway during construction projects.
Council will decide in the coming weeks how it will amend a portion of the ordinance that pertains to the borough's historic preservation overlay district. Issues concerning the enforceability of some of its provisions were among the chief concerns expressed by residents and officials during Monday's hearing on the proposed amendments.
The borough implemented the historical district in the zoning ordinance in 2012. According to planning commission chairwoman Mary Beth Girardi, it was designed to establish an attractive commercial district that preserves some of its historic architectural elements.
The district overlay runs along Main Street from First to Third streets and from Market Street to the side of Main Street closest to the Kiski River. It extends to cover some parts of Hicks Street and all of the plaza where Sprankle's Neighborhood Market is located. Most of the overlay is drawn over areas that are zoned for commercial business development or business/residential.
Under the ordinance, any construction in the district “shall be compatible in detail, style and scale to the historic character of Leechburg.” All signs must be externally illuminated — barring any digital or neon signage — and only non-toxic, low volatile organic paints can be used on the exterior of structures.
Lee Schumaker, Leechburg's zoning enforcement officer, said the provisions are unenforceable. Some historical district businesses, such as the Sunoco gas station on Market Street, would be unable to comply with the ordinance for any renovation or expansion projects, he said.
“There's no way a commercial structure like that could uphold the appearance of an 19th or early 20th century structure,” he said. “It's just not going to happen.”
Leechburg Solicitor Jim Favero said the historical district's inclusion in the ordinance could leave the borough vulnerable to a potential lawsuit for selective enforcement.
“An ordinance is a law,” he said. “It's not a suggestion, it's a law. You can't say these business are exempt from certain parts of the ordinance and others are not.”
Monday's hearing initially was scheduled to discuss a proposal to make participation in the historical district's guidelines optional. Noting a subsequent section in the ordinance that calls for equal enforcement over all of its sections, Councilman Christian Vaccaro recommended that the historical district be removed entirely from zoning and enacted through a separate ordinance.
Council President Tony Defillippi said council will discuss the matter during their agenda meeting this month and could have a solution prepared by their voting meeting afterward.
All plans for exterior work still would require planning commission approval if council enacts the historical division through a separate ordinance.
Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
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.
- Springdale Library to pay rent to borough
- Freezing rain menaces Alle-Kiski Valley roadways
- Machinists ranked No. 1 occupation by Department of Labor
- Alle-Kiski Valley slips into the holiday spirit with Light Up Night festivities
- Knoch graduate a success in male-dominant profession
- Brackenridge high-rise infested with bed bugs
- Tarentum school briefly locked down Tuesday
- Positives seen despite Valley Junior-Senior High School performance scores
- Plum board may redraw attendance lines
- Municipal Authority of Washington Township to call out delinquent ratepayers
- Car dealership, church receive OKs for Harmar moves