A public hearing was held by the Schuylkill County Planning Commission Wednesday eveniing at the courthouse in Pottsville to receive imputs on proposed revision of the county zoning ordinance. The county zoning ordinance currently covers 14 townships and 19 boroughs as most of the populated municipalities have their own zoning.
The imput received from the public will be reviewed by the planning commission at a work sessin to be held next Monday and revisions adopted at the next monthly meeting on Sept. 15. The recommendations will then be presented to the county commissioners who will hold a public hearing on the proposed revisions before adopting them.
John Malinchok, chairman of the commission, said, "The board only recommends and the commissioners have the final say." The goal is to have the new ordinance in operation by January.
The Pennsylvania Muncipalities Planning Code provides municipalities with the authority to regulate developments and zoning and is primarily to regulate the uses of land and buildiungs, different types of land use, distance buildings can be placed from streets and lot lines, the heights and sizes of signs and the amount of parking that must be provided by new development.
The objectives for the zoning ordinance are based upon goals in the county's comprehensive plan. They are:
Provide for compatibility between different types of development, particularly to protect residential areas from very intense business uses and nuisances; maintain a strong agricultural economy and promote the preservation of contiguious area of prime farmland, protect the water supplies, including grandwater and surface waters, conserve important natural areas, particularly very steep wooded slopes.
Maintain a natural vegetative buffer along the Schuylkill River and major creeks, provide for a range of housing choices at various densities, to meet the needs of diverse types of households land persons of all ages, coordinate development and traffic patterns across municipal borders, seek to strenghten a sense of community and a community of neighborhoods, strengthen economic activity in the downtowns while promoting a pedestrian friendly streetscape.
It also seeks that new development be clustered on the most suitable portions of a tract while permanently preserving sensitive natural areas, meet obligations under state law to provide opportunities for all types of land use, promote appropriate types of businesses in business zoning districts to attract employers and generate additional tax revenue while avoiding the most intense business uses next to residential areas, emphasize new industrial uses and energy related industries on redevelopment or reclamation sites and areas with access to Interstate 811, promote outdoor recreation and tourism related uses, provide suitable areas for mining with appropriate reclamation of the land and avoid excessive regulations upon routine changes by residents to their residential properties.
The county has computerized mapping information that shows the existing and proposed zoning categories of all lands under the current county zoning ordinance. Numerous updates to these zoning maps are proposed and most of those updates involve revising zoning boundaries to more closely relate to lot lines, natural features and existing development paterns.