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Ligonier zoning ordinance gets second look

| Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The Ligonier Borough planning committee will recommend that council ask the planning firm that worked on its zoning ordinance to take a second look at the document.

At their first meeting on Monday night, committee members Pat Scanlon, James B. St. Clair and Matthew Smith voted unanimously to suggest that council ask Environmental Planning and Design LLC to provide a gratis review of its ordinance, which was adopted in 2010.

The committee made the decision after attorney Daniel Hewitt explained how a zoning appeal regarding the subdivision of Ruth Conrad's East Main Street property, which he was involved with last year, revealed “holes” in the ordinance.

“The issue that we ran into in the Conrad case was, in the process of going to the zoning hearing board, it became apparent that there were gaps, shall we say, in the borough's ordinance,” Hewitt said. “There were items that were not rationally progressive. There were definitions that didn't exist for terms that were used in the ordinance.”

Hewitt said some of the evidence used at the hearing showed that the ordinance does not provide lot dimensions for apartments, a land use in the village residential district.

The zoning hearing board ruled in favor of the landowner, he said.

Hewitt said it “may be worth opening the door with the consultant” to ask what it will do for the borough regarding the “glaring inconsistencies.”

Zoning officer Merle Musick said, though he did look at the ordinance quickly, he did notice some flaws in it as well.

In other business, the committee discussed its procedures, with Welty providing the state Municipalities Planning Code's list of powers and duties for borough planning agencies. Welty explained that since it is a committee, it can call meetings as needed. Scanlon said he would like the committee to set a deadline for submissions so the committee can review them prior to its meeting. Additionally, St. Clair requested that notes be kept during the meeting to keep track of who attends the meetings and what is discussed.

Former planning commissions members Patti Campbell and Dirk Matson are also serving on the committee. Campbell is the secretary, and Matson is an advisor.

During public comment, Richard Flickinger inquired about how the meeting was advertised. St. Clair said the meeting was mentioned at council's last meeting and posted on the borough's website. Flickinger said he got the impression that since the committee will not have regular meetings that there will not be public input on planning matters.

The committee held an executive session regarding litigation.

St. Clair said the committee will likely meet again at 7 p.m. April 28.

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