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Ligonier planners approve Excela rezoning application

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

After a lengthy discussion, the Ligonier Borough Planning Commission decided to address the Ligonier Valley YMCA proposed rezoning and conditional use applications as that for a medical office due to the addition of a building for Excela Health.

After approving last month's minutes and the 2014 calendar, commission member Joe Willard asked if the addition of Excela Health meets the definition of a medical office or if it is a medical clinic.

According to the borough zoning ordinance, the definition of a medical office is “a building or series of buildings or rooms where a doctor licensed to practice medicine, osteopathy, dentistry, chiropractic, optometry and/or podiatry along with supporting personnel provide diagnosis and treatment to the general public without overnight observation or accomodations.” It may include “such uses as reception areas, offices, examination rooms and x-ray rooms, provided that all such uses have access only from the interior of the building.” It may not include a pharmacy or surgical suites.

Willard said its primary difference from a medical clinic, according to the zoning ordinance, is that a clinic does perform surgical tasks. According to the expansion plans announced earlier in the month, the Excela Health building will primarily share therapy resources with the YMCA, not perform surgery.

The planning commission agreed to address the YMCA's request as a conditional use for a medical office, and Jim McDonnell said it should also consult with the borough council to confirm it views it the same way before a decision is made in the matter.

“We can look at this expansion, but there is a medical office; and I really believe we need to review this medical office, but we all have to be on the same page,” Jim McDonnell said. “In other words, if we feel it's this way, I really think we should have council agree with us so that we are all together.”

A medical office, according to the zoning ordinance conditional use, can be permitted so long as it meets several requirements, specifically parking for patients and employees is off-street and the parking and delivery zone plan does not conflict with existing borough traffic flow.

The planning commission also devised a list of question categories to submit to both the Ligonier Valley YMCA and the borough council for the public hearing. Their concerns include the size of the added building, the setbacks of the expansion, security, number of employees and parking for employees.

The next planning commission meeting will be held Aug. 26.

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or