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West Kittanning to revisit zoning

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Saturday, March 8, 2014, 1:06 a.m.

A set of zoning laws developed four years ago but never approved by the West Kittanning Borough Council will get another shot after review and possible revision by an appointed committee.

“Any place that is expanding and doesn't have zoning in place is kind of in a dangerous situation,” Councilman Ken Trudgen said. “We've been lucky we haven't run into problems without it.”

Municipalities are not required to have zoning regulations, though the laws are helpful in steering community development, said Sally Conklin, director of the Armstrong County Planning Division. “Some communities may not have seen the need. But it's a great tool for land development.”

Zoning can regulate where people can build a store or house, or how high a fence can be in a yard. Without it, there is nothing stopping someone from building a factory next to someone's house. Conklin said 13 of the county's 45 municipalities have zoning regulations in place,

Borough auditor Carol Augustine was a volunteer on the borough's committee that tried to get zoning in place about 14 years ago. She said the committee took about 10 years to develop zoning regulations for the borough.

“We even held two public meetings to review the regulations, and turned it over to council, but it didn't go anywhere,” Augustine said. “A lot of people see zoning in a bad light, but it's there for communities to protect what they have.”

Trudgen said the committee spent about $7,000 in legal fees to develop the regulations, which the council never approved.

Councilman Cliff Neal, who sat on the committee to develop zoning, said establishing the law is an arduous process which he supports. But he said the last time the council may have felt pressured to rush into a decision, so it took no action.

“I don't want anybody telling me what to do with my property, but zoning is a necessary evil,” Trudgen, who was the one who suggested appointing the committee to review the zoning development work already done, said. “If we want to have a stable housing market and business district, we have to watch what goes into our community.”

The council is expected to discuss appointment of the zoning committee at its April 7 meeting.

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