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Seeds of landscape ordinance planted in Penn Township

Patrick Varine
| Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, 3:24 p.m.

Penn Township planning commission members took the first steps in developing a landscaping ordinance at their recent workshop meeting.

“I really think the goals are to find out, where you live, what you like and what you don't like,” said board chair Phillip Miller. “It's not just a matter of how many trees and what kind; what is the ultimate goal?”

Community development technician Bill Roberts advised that the board not look at landscaping as a one-size-fits-all issue.

“You're going to have to incorporate language (into the eventual ordinance) that lets the board look on a case-by-case basis,” he said.

Roberts said the majority of the township's zoning hearing board cases are related to landscaping.

“It's been the bulk of their work for a while,” he said.

The discussion focused mainly on landscaping for commercial properties.

“The big thing, especially for older people, is line of sight,” said consulting engineer Dan Coffman of the EADS Group. “You have to balance aesthetics with functionality.”

Board member Donna Muller suggested looking at the Lincoln Way corridor in nearby White Oak as a potential model.

“You have businesses like doctors, attorneys and accountants, you have convenience stores, but you also have a few houses where (people) still live, you have a funeral home — but it all blends together very well,” she said. “We're going to have to tie lighting, landscaping and signage together.”

Citing the township's neighborhood character, board member Jeff Shula suggested including a landscape variance for home-based businesses.

Solicitor Michael Korns said that no matter what form the final ordinance takes, its general intent should be clear.

“We want flexibility on our end, but we also want people reading it to understand what they need to do and why,” he said.

Miller asked the board to bring to the next meeting a list of goals, “and that would make a good starting-off point (for next month).” He also said the board would like to receive public input.

The board will meet Aug. 2 at 6:45 p.m. at the township municipal building.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862 or pvarine@tribweb.com.

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