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County planners recommend zoning change

The county’s Planning Commission has recommended a change to the zoning ordinance to permit multi-family residences in business zoning districts.

Zoning Officer Michael Lyon said he was approached by someone who has a property in a business district on State St. in North Warren who expressed difficulty finding renters for commercial use and wanted to pivot to developing apartments.

Officials think the prohibition is likely an oversight from “some point in the past” because business transitional districts can have multi-family and that zoning designation is more restrictive than business.

The county’s zoning ordinance covers Clarendon, Sugar Grove and Tidioute boroughs, as well as Columbus, Eldred, Southwest, Deerfield, Pleasant, Conewango, Pine Grove, Elk, Glade and Mead townships.

The commission spent time trying to figure out where the proposed change would be a problem.

“I can’t think that it would be,” Lyon said.

Commission chair Paul Pascuzzi said the smaller municipalities would be unlikely to have a problem as long as tax revenue comes in.

Lyon suggested that this change falls in line with a change implemented in the City of Warren to permit residential use of first floor buildings in the commercial district.

“It would be pretty rare especially in the municipalities we (zone),” Pascuzzi said.

“To me it makes perfect sense,” Lyon added.

The commission ultimately agreed to make a recommendation to the commissioners to modify the county zoning ordinance to include multi-family residences in business districts.

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