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Officials to update Heidelberg zoning ordinance

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 11:10 p.m.
Paul Gilbert, a planner with Pashek & Associates, points out differences on Heidelberg’s proposed new zoning map at a public forum during the Feb. 19 borough council meeting. Doug Gulasy | The Signal Item

The last major update to Heidelberg's zoning ordinance came in 1989.

The next one could come as early as next month.

Borough council voted to advertise the updated zoning ordinance and zoning map after a public hearing on Feb. 19, which puts the measures in line for an approval vote in March.

“This thing is long overdue — very long overdue — and needs to be implemented,” solicitor Michael Kaleugher said.

Heidelberg's original borough ordinance was written in 1940 and was updated in 1989. Since that time, about 10 amendments were added that supplement the 1989 update, which led to some confusion when settling disputes, manager Joe Kauer said.

“There were a lot of curative amendments over the past 10 years to try to supplement the old ordinance – basically Band-Aid it as we went along,” Kauer said. “The new ordinance puts this all in one book so it can easily be followed.”

The new ordinance also regulates lot amenities that weren't thought of in 1989, such as storage containers, electronic billboards and solar panels.

The new ordinance and map also contains two new overlay districts. The first, which encompasses most of the area between Route 50 and Chartiers Creek, allows for mixed-use residential, commercial and office development projects on sites that are four acres or larger.

The idea for that mixed-use overlay came from the borough's comprehensive plan approved last year.

“(The question was) if a developer should, in the future, have a grand idea of a larger-scale development, what would the borough want that to look like?” said Paul Gilbert, planner from Pashek Associates, the borough's consulting firm on the zoning project. “This isn't necessarily saying this is going to happen, but we're setting the stage if this should happen.”

The other overlay district encompasses the area of the Tri-Community Revitalization Project along Route 50. If a lot in that area is greater than 10,000 feet, the developer must stay consistent with the amenities called for in the streetscape project: streetlights, sidewalks, benches, crosswalks and trash receptacles.

“We're just trying to get that project moving to the next step and piggybacking on developments in the overlay,” Gilbert said.

Resident Carrie Nolan said while she thought the new zoning ordinance seemed like a good thing, she wished the borough provided copies of the ordinance and map at the public hearing.

“It just would have been helpful to have a copy to follow along,” she said.

Copies of the proposed new ordinance and map are available on the borough website.

Borough officials will hold another public hearing prior to adopting the map and ordinance.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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