Oakmont looks to add 2 new zoning districts

| Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 12:51 a.m.

Two new zoning districts are in the process of being added to Oakmont's zoning map and ordinance.

Council held a required public hearing on the changes Monday in which the addition of a light industrial district and a second “mixed-use district” were outlined.

Councilman Tom Briney, chairman of the planning and land use committee, gave a presentation at the hearing attended by about a dozen people.

The biggest change involves what have been designated as industrial, or “I,” zones.

There were six such zones in Oakmont before, but now there will be only one. Now it's one that resembles a horn, beginning at its widest part behind Morris Street and then extending upriver, tapering almost to a point at the boundary with Plum.

Briney said the revisions reflect the changing character of the borough away from industrial uses.

Two smaller industrial areas below the tracks in the previous industrial-zoned area have reverted to residential or commercial uses, which are now rezoned to reflect the change.

‘Mixed-use' area

One of the largest industrially-zoned areas affected is one below the railroad tracks from Cedar Way to the Allegheny River and from the backyards of parcels along Delaware Avenue upriver to Pennsylvania Avenue. That will become a second mixed-use, or “M-2,” zone, which incorporates elements of several uses such as the Golden Living Center and some light manufacturing/industrial such as Dente Classic Stone that's already there.

“One of the most important things is the ordinance must be flexible,” Briney said.

He said the first mixed-use zone district was created to aid in the development of the former Edgewater Steel Co. property into two upscale housing developments with some commercial included. He called it “extraordinarily successful.”

Light industrial area

The other - industrial areas that are being converted split the corridor along Plum Street and Dark Hollow Road along the southern end of the borough's boundary with Verona and Penn Hills.

The light industrial, or “LI,” zone begins on a line about where High Street would be if it extended all the way over into that corridor. From there, the light industrial zone goes up Plum Creek toward Plum and Penn Hills.

The other half of the corridor from that area around High Street runs down to Allegheny River Boulevard between the residential boundaries of Valley Street and College Avenue to the borough line along the creek. It will be an M-2 mixed use zone.Council will have 90 days in which to approve or reject the new zoning map and ordinance. Briney said.

He added a note of caution to would-be developers.

“At the conclusion of this hearing, this ordinance becomes pending and as pending, it is enforceable,” he said.

Solicitor Chuck Means affirmed what Briney said.

Means said council prefers not to act on the matter until it hears comments from Allegheny County development officials. The map and ordinance were submitted to the county for review for which the county had 45 days to complete. That period ended Friday, Assistant Borough Secretary Ryan Jeroski said.However, Means said that if the county officials make a comment or criticism council does not agree with, they are not bound to comply with it.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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