Collier residents weigh in on zoning changes

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About 40 residents listened and offered suggestions to Collier Planning Commission members who discussed changes to the township's zoning districts.

"The last time Collier did a complete ordinance overhaul was 10 years ago," said Amy Wiles, a senior planner with Mackin Engineering Co., the firm hired to assist in the project.

"We're reviewing everything in place to see that everything's up to date and fits with current and future plans," she said last Thursday at the session.

One of the first things the planners looked at was cleaning up zoning district borders, which led to some proposed changes.

For example, a former industrial area in Collier near the Carnegie border with Interstate 79 would become a special conservation district under the latest proposed zoning code revision from the five-member Planning Commission.

The area, near Lane Block and Vesuvius, would be designated B-4 — a new district for Collier. Planners believe the re-designation would spur redevelopment there.

A man asked whether that area is large enough for fracking, to which Planning Commission Chairman Doug Price answered affirmatively. However, Vice Chairman Tom Chidlow said there are regulations on hours and waterways.

Among other proposed changes is redesignating an industrial parcel along Thoms Run Road and part of Trader Jack's to permit light industrial and commercial as conditional uses, as well as act as a buffer against the Chartiers Valley High School property.

Two other changes would involve the B-2 highway commercial district along Campbells Run Road and the B-3 special commercial involving Starbucks Plaza and a small area near Forsythe Road that would go from conditional uses to uses by right. Another proposal is to add commercial schools, recreation and planned residential developments to the district along Baldwin Road and Noblestown Road.

"This isn't forever, It's not like it won't be changed in the future," one of the planners said, noting that people can always apply for changes.

"You told us what you wanted. We have been working on this for three years and have tweaked a few things. We're not in any way trying to change the character of Collier; in fact, we want to strengthen it," Mr. Price told the residents.

When one resident asked how to affect change, Mr. Price suggested attending planning commission meetings, which are held at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month.

"Come to the meeting and tell us about it," he said. "We try to incorporate whatever the public asks us."

Residents also weighed in on topics like fencing and lighting, including digital signs.

Collier's five elected commissioners would have the final say on whether to approve the suggested changes.

Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer:

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