The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

December 23, 2013

Planner: Westmont zoning law outdated

JOHNSTOWN — Westmont’s 84-year-old zoning ordinance is so out of date that it should not apply to CVS Pharmacy’s proposed development of the former Stutzman School property, an urban planning expert said Monday.

Although the law has been updated over the years, many land uses remain undefined and it may not address the community’s current situation, Andrew “A.J.” Schwartz of Pittsburgh-based Environmental Planning & Design testified before the Westmont Zoning Hearing Board.

Nearly 20 people filled the seats in the borough meeting room for the hearing, in which CVS was challenging the validity of Westmont’s zoning law.

The law appears to be exclusionary when it comes to commercial development, Schwartz said. The borough’s 3.5-acre commercial zone along Millcreek Road at Bucknell Avenue represents just 0.25 percent of Westmont’s total area. And it’s completely developed, he said.

What’s more, Schwartz said, the zoning ordinance is supposed to be the legal teeth for a comprehensive plan that defines the community’s priorities and goals. But the comprehensive plan has not been updated since 1980. State law requires the plan to be updated every 10 years, he said.

Those attending were told they would not learn of the board’s decision until it is filed by attorney Daniel Lovette following closed-door deliberations following the hearing. The findings of fact and findings of law will be filed within 30 days, Lovette said.

Randy Griffith covers Westmont for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photogriffer57.

 

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