Police committee appointed; applicants scant for West Kittanning zoning panel

| Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

West Kittanning Council couldn't find enough residents to fill seven seats on a board to set zoning regulations, but had no problems filling its three-member police committee during its Monday meeting.

Council will keep looking for zoning committee members, while moving ahead with its police committee, which will be exploring options to regionalize or contract services with neighboring police departments.

Council appointed auditor Carol Augustine, Arthur Street resident Jeffrey Fox and Marie Mores, wife of Councilman Henry Mores, to sit on the police committee. They were the only applicants.

“The police committee is only a fact-finding group,” said Council President Bob Venesky. “Their job is to explore all the options and see what other municipalities have to offer us. We just want to find the best and most protection for the best price.”

Venesky said the committee will present its findings to council, who will make a final decision on whether to regionalize or contract services with neighboring departments, or continue working with its two-member, part-time police force.

Two people — former Councilman Bernie Bowser Sr. and Augustine — volunteered but were not appointed to sit on the zoning committee.

“We're just going to start it brand new,” said Councilman Mores. “We were going to have to wait for more people anyway, and right now, we can't move ahead with just two.”

Municipalities are not required to have zoning regulations, though proponents of the laws say they are helpful in steering community development. Zoning allows municipalities to regulate where people can build residences or businesses, or how high a fence can be in a yard, and stops spot development that could lead to a factory being built next to a house.

Augustine, a former councilwoman who serves on the West Kittanning Water Authority, sat on a committee that developed zoning laws for council to review and take action on four years ago. Although completed, council never took action to enact the regulations.

It took them more than a decade to develop the regulations, but this time, it shouldn't take nearly as long, she said.

“I've still got my copy, and somewhere, council has a copy,” Augustine said. “We've basically got something that we can begin to review when we have a committee.”

Councilwoman Paula Henry said she would like to see fresh faces join the zoning committee.

“New members will probably bring us some new ideas,” Henry said.

Borough resident Pattie Colberg said the borough needs to make sure it gets zoning regulations in place soon, so officials have laws to control development.

Colberg declined to sit on the committee.

“Things are moving fast, and we're losing precious time waiting to get more people in,” she said. “We don't know who or what's going to try to move into the area, so we need to get working on this right away.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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