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Hempfield tries again to update 1978 ordinance

| Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

Anyone wishing to comment on Hempfield's revised zoning ordinance proposal will get a chance to do so in February.

The township supervisors have scheduled a public hearing for 7 p.m. Feb. 4 in the municipal building to field public comments in favor or against the proposed revisions.

The supervisors may vote during that meeting, although Doug Weimer, board president, said this week that a decision may come later, possibly during the board's meeting scheduled for Feb. 25.

In December, the township planning commission displayed a new map with revisions that created 11 zoning districts among the categories of residential, commercial and industrial.

The proposed districts are:

• Rural, suburban, corridor, residential and village residential.

• Neighborhood, local and regional commercial.

• Industrial, light and heavy industrial.

The proposal is part of an effort to update the outdated code used since 1978.

The project began in 2006 when a group of volunteers began meeting to draft a new zoning ordinance and map.

The measure has undergone revisions over the years.

Joan Shaver, a six-year member of the task force, said in early December that she wasn't “100 percent happy” with the proposal, “but none of us are.”

“It's a compromise,” she added. “We've done as much as we possibly can. No one's going to be 100 percent happy, but it's fair and equitable. It's been a balancing act the whole way through.”

Plans call for the township planning commission and Westmoreland County Planning Commission to review the revisions and make comments for the supervisors to consider, Weimer said.

He described the latest measure as the best presented to date.

The law has been amended several times since 1978, but some of the regulations are outdated.

About a year ago, the supervisors inadvertently voted to continue revamping the zoning code after one supervisor mistakenly voted to keep the process alive because of confusion over wording of a motion.

Some residents objected to the original plan, arguing it infringed on property rights and could harm small businesses.

At that time, several property owners complained that they had purchased land in the township for business endeavors only to learn the proposed changes put their land in a different zoning category.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or