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Carnegie may rezone to boost single-family dwellings

| Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Carnegie is getting in the zone — the residential-1 zone.

Officials in the borough are considering rezoning portions of the community to designate more Residential-1, or R1 areas, which are for single-family homes.

There are eight different zone categories in Carnegie, each with its own set of rules and stipulations that dictate what can be built in that area.

Mayor Jack Kobistek said that while most borough residents live in residential zones, there are different categories of residential zoning allowing for different types of residences.

R1 zones allow for single-family homes, agricultural establishments, parks and recreation, and community-use facilities. R2 zones also allow two-family homes, R3 allows for the previous plus town homes, and R4 zones include the previous plus apartments.

“Rezoning R2 areas to R1 areas is significant because many big homes are made into multiunit apartments,” Kobistek said. Rezoning R2 areas — which allow for multifamily homes — into R1 zones would result in fewer apartments.

Such multifamily units put stress on the surrounding infrastructure, he said. A street or driveway that normally would accommodate just one or two vehicles per house now must accommodate several more, depending on how many people live in each unit.

Zoning board member Phil Boyd said when a single-family home is turned into multifamily apartments, three things happen: The use of infrastructure increases, the likelihood of emergency services being called to that house increases, and the use of school district facilities increases — all without commensurate changes in the tax money that the house generates.

“I think Carnegie has just outgrown its ability to add more cars and add more people to its infrastructure,” he said.

Multifamily residences already in areas rezoned to R1 would be grandfathered into the new zone; the residences would be permitted to remain as they are unless vacant for a year, at which time they would become R1 residences. Single-family homes in R1 zones would not be permitted to become multifamily residences.

Kobistek said many landlords consider older, bigger homes as investment properties that can be turned into multiunit rentals.

He said 49 percent of the borough's housing stock is rental property.

“The pendulum has swung very far in one direction, and it's time to come back the other way a little bit,” Boyd said.

Kobistek said borough officials are trying to determine how much of the community can be changed to R1, including what areas they should target and what impact rezoning would have.

Boyd said a committee is being formed to look further into the possibility of rezoning, including looking at zoning in similar nearby communities.

The borough also has three zones for commercial properties and one for industrial facilities. Part of the goal for rezoning, Kobistek said, is to make sure businesses are going in appropriate places.

“We want to be sure businesses that are adult-oriented have a place to go, but are not in an area where they are jeopardizing growth,” he said.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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