New Castle News

December 21, 2012

Neshannock updating zoning map

Nancy Lowry
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — A new zoning map for Neshannock Township remains months away from completion, residents heard this week.

They raised questions at a supervisors meeting Wednesday morning about proposed zoning changes that the supervisors had initiated several months ago.

The supervisors recommendations so far have resulted in praise from residents who foresee benefits, concern from those who do not favor changes and complaints from those who don’t believe the changes are enough.

Noting he has received numerous calls, letters and e-mails from residents and zoning consultants and professionals, township solicitor Lou Perrotta outlined the process the township is following to update its zoning.

He said residents have been asked to get involved by saying what they want or don’t want.

“This is a public process,” he said. “We want input.”

He said people attended meetings and sent letters.

“But the supervisors are not in a position to approve (zoning requests) right now. There are still procedures to follow. The process is complicated,” Perrotta said.

The procedures include presenting change requests to township and Lawrence County planning commissions and a public hearing.

He noted that the municipality’s comprehensive plan must also be reviewed to ensure that proposed changes to the zoning map meet established goals.

Perrotta said the township decided to change the zoning map when it was noticed that errors existed on the existing zoning map did not reflect actual land use. This prompted discussion on “corrections and changes which have been used interchangeably, but are not the same thing,” he said.

The supervisors have since proposed a map identifying suggested adjustments. The map is posted in the supervisors’ meeting room at the municipal building. Perrotta said he urged the supervisors to post the maps “so people can see the planned changes.

“But this is not the final product yet,” he noted. “No one has said we are completed with the process.”

Chairman Ralph Sheen, who raised the zoning questions, said, “I want the public to come in and say what they want.”

He added, “We’ve dragged this out for months, No one is doing anything on the sly.”

Earlier in the meeting, Mark Phillian of RAR Engineering reviewed the proposed  changes, most of which are along Wilmington Road.

Several residents spoke up about anticipated changes, including former supervisor Gale Measel.

He noted that he and several partners own property on Mitchell Road, which is zoned for C-3 commercial use but is targeted for a change to industrial use, and the partners do not want that, nor did they request it.

Also raising questions were residents Robert Richards and Phil DeCarbo.

DeCarbo said he favors extending commercial zoning to include his property, but Richards argued that rezoning his property for commercial use, “... is not good moral judgment.

“It’s not right to take what a man has worked for all his life,” Richards said.