Greensburg votes to dissolve Historic and Architectural Review Board
Greensburg City Council has begun the process to dissolve the Historic and Architectural Review Board, an organization that served as gatekeeper for most commercial development in the city.
Council unanimously voted on the motion Monday. The ordinance to make it official will likely be introduced at June’s council meeting, and put to a final vote in July.
Mayor Robert Bell said the board created unnecessary extra steps for developers in Greensburg. Those who wanted to build or renovate a downtown property would need to seek the recommendation of two boards — the planning commission and HARB — before getting final approval from city council.
“We just felt that there was redundancy there,” Bell said. “We’re trying to facilitate development.”
The HARB was established in 2007. The 7-member board oversees all proposed construction in downtown Greensburg and along the city’s major roads.
Its job is to preserve historic properties and ensure new construction fit in with the city’s historical character.
The HARB can not approve or deny projects. It makes recommendations to council, which has final say over development.
Bell said the planning commission will assume HARB’s duties.
The decision to dissolve HARB is one of several sweeping changes council has made related to planning and development.
In February, council unanimously voted to fire longtime planning director Barbara Ciampini. The reason for the firing remains undisclosed.
The city will hire two people to replace her, Bell said — a planning director and a code enforcement officer.
The city’s previous code enforcement officer, Les Harvey, retired in 2015. Ciampini assumed many of his duties, and the city hired Pittsburgh company Code.sys to handle much of the day-to-day code enforcement work.
The city will continue to contract with Code.sys once it hires a new officer, Bell said.
Officials have twice postponed a vote on a new planning director. It was on council’s agenda in April and May, and put off both times.
The city has interviewed several candidates but wants to take its time to ensure it makes the right choice, Bell said.
Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter .