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Consultant next step for overlay district along Route 51 in the South Hills

| Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Officials are moving forward to create an overlay district along Route 51 between Whitehall and Brentwood to improve the appearance of the corridor.

Developers and business owners will have to follow regulations for setbacks, sidewalks and foliage.

Town leaders soon will select a consultant to oversee creation of the overlay district.

“The goal is to find as much common ground as possible,” Economic Development South executive director Greg Jones said.

A nonprofit community development corporation serving Brentwood, Whitehall and Baldwin boroughs and Pittsburgh's Carrick and Overbrook neighborhoods, EDS initially pursued money for the project through Allegheny County, Jones said.

When that money wasn't available, officials looked elsewhere. The project will cost $40,000 to $50,000, which will pay for the consultant, officials estimate.

Brentwood and Whitehall, in partnership with EDS, won a $17,000 grant from the Local Government Academy, on Western Avenue in Pittsburgh. Then, at the end of 2012, they secured a $25,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

“That was the last piece of the puzzle,” Jones said.

Whitehall and Brentwood will split costs not covered by grants, he said.

A consultant will review the municipalities' zoning codes, see where the codes differ, why that is and whether changes are needed.

“We want find out if there's a reason for those differences or if it's just because that's the way they've always been,” Jones said.

The local governments could decide whether to change their zoning rules, Jones said.

The plan could benefit other communities, Jones said. Baldwin Borough will be included through its comprehensive plan.

Likewise, Brentwood is revamping its zoning code with the help of Delta Development.

There will be a public hearing on Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. where representatives with Delta Development will address proposed improvements to the zoning code including a more extensive definitions list, housing and land requirements — including fences and parking — and specific changes to each zoning district to address any possible land use.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com. Laura Van Wert contributed to this story.

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