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Ligonier Township calls for updated zoning laws

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

A Ligonier Township Zoning Hearing Board member is calling for updates to “antiquated” zoning laws in the township.

Linda McDowell appeared before the supervisors last week to ask for the initiation of the lengthy process to amend the comprehensive development ordinance, which governs zoning in the township.

“More than once I have considered the codes to be somewhat antiquated relative to today's fast-changing economic and social activities,” McDowell said. “It is crucial that we know the direction of Ligonier Township must proceed, if it is to continue development and growth going forward.”

McDowell emphasized she was not representing the entire zoning board.

Supervisors did not respond to McDowell's call for action at the April 9 meeting.

Afterward, Supervisor Keith Whipkey said he has noticed some problems.

“The zoning hearing board has been getting a lot of hearings, and when that happens it becomes apparent that there are issues,” he said.

The board is a quasi-judicial board of appointed officials who review applications seeking special exceptions, or variances, to the ordinance. By law, applicants must demonstrate a hardship associated with their property to be granted an exception.

When more applications must be decided by the board, it means less applications are fitting into the regulations outlined in the zoning ordinance, he said.

McDowell said past amendments to the 16-year-old ordinance come in response to problems the township has encountered.

“I would much prefer a proactive approach to the needs that lie ahead,” she said.

“We're accused of being reactionary, but we don't know what somebody is looking for until they tell us,” Supervisor Tim Komar responded.

Komar said the township is gathering information to look at what direction to take the zoning ordinance.

“It's something we're always thinking about,” said Zoning Officer Cindy Angelo.

In other news, supervisors approved the plan to renovate the Sheetz at the intersection of state routes 711 and 271.

Sheetz update

A drive-through food window and car wash will be added to the site, as well as additional parking spaces and a new convenience store, nearly double the size of the original erected in 1989.

Construction should start next March and finish up by July, said Robert Franks, engineering and project manager for Sheetz.

During construction the current store will stay open.

When the new store opens, workers will raze the old store and the gas pumps. A car wash will be built, the driveways on both roads will move back about 30 feet and six new gas pumps will be constructed.

The store will not provide gas for 10 weeks, Franks said.

Sheetz officials are working with the Ligonier Township Municipal Authority to install a public sewer line from the Oakwood Hills area to serve the site and the properties along Route 711.

Komar said Sheetz officials hope that the sewage line will be ready at the time the car wash is completed, but can operate the new store with the current sewage holding tanks in place.

Jewels Phraner is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-1218 or jphraner@tribweb.com.

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