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Ligonier council approves YMCA zoning

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By Nicole Chynoweth
Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Ligonier borough council voted Thursday to approve the Ligonier Valley YMCA's zoning requests that it previously had denied.

The split vote included approval from President Robert Helterbran, James St. Clair and Tom Freeman. Judy Hoffer, Bob Bell and Jim McDonnell voted against the motion. Mayor Ormond Bellas broke the tie with his approval.

The requests included changing the zoning on two properties — from R-2, two-family residential, to C-2, general commercial — and to amend the zoning ordinance to allow surface parking lots as a conditional use.

At the start of the meeting, Helterbran stated that although council's special meeting on Oct. 29 officially had been adjourned, council still needed to make a determination regarding the acceptance of Kim Shaffer's resignation from her council post. Shaffer announced her resignation at the Oct. 29 meeting, which had been advertised as a meeting to reconsider the YMCA's zoning requests.

At Thursday's meeting, Helterbran, St. Clair and Freeman voted to accept the resignation, while Hoffer, Bell and McDonnell voted against accepting it. Bellas broke the tie, voting to accept the resignation.

Shaffer responded to the vote by stating she had intended to take back her resignation Thursday night, adding that she had told Helterbran of her intentions prior to the meeting and that she planned to read her statement after the pledge of allegiance. Helterbran denied her claim, saying that she had only told him she had a statement to read. Shaffer then left the meeting.

Helterbran announced that resident Matthew Smith, who won a council seat in the recent election, had submitted a letter of interest asking to take Shaffer's vacated seat.

Helterbran, St. Clair and Freeman voted in favor of seating Smith. Hoffer, Bell and McDonnell voted against the motion. Bellas broke the tie, voting in favor of Smith.

Council then held an executive session to discuss litigation. When the meeting was brought back to order, Helterbran asked if there was a motion to reconsider the YMCA's requests. Helterbran, St. Clair and Freeman voted in favor of it. Hoffer, Bell and McDonnell voted against it, while Bellas broke the tie with his favorable vote.

Council heard from members of the public, both for and against the proposed zoning changes, before voting to approve the requests.

In other business, council held a public hearing prior to its regular meeting for Eric Elek's conditional-use application to open Financial Services at 112 N. Market St., the former Sewickley Spa building. The conditional-use was approved 5-1.

Smith abstained from voting during the meeting.

The next meeting will be held 7 p.m. Dec. 12.

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

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