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Supervisors struggle with how to determine building heights

Published April 14. 2011 05:00PM

What the building height for single family dwellings should be in Mahoning Township is a question supervisors have been struggling with as evidenced from their latest discussion during this week's township meeting.

"Last meeting I suggested we go from the top of the foundation wall to the peak of the highest roof and that would be [the measurement of 50 feet or less] for single family dwellings," said Supervisor Frank Ruch.

Ruch asked Solicitor Tom Nanovic at the last meeting when the issue was discussed to see what kind of language he could find that would help define the building height. Nanovic reported that from his research a basement would count as a floor while a cellar would not. "I think the suggestion of measuring from the first floor is a good one," Nanovic said.

Supervisor George Stawnyczyj told the board they already had an ordinance that states the building height should be 50 feet from the lowest grade. Chairperson John Wieczorek mentioned that the Zoning Officer LeRoy Leibenguth measures the height to the top of the chimney currently.

Supervisor Travis Steigerwalt said he thought the measurement should go from the highest grade for the base instead of the lower grade. Stawnyczyj said he was content to go with either the grade or the top of the foundation wall. Wieczorek said he believed the height should be measured from the threshold floor.

To add to the discussion local developer and township resident Jake Arner, who is also an officer of the Carbon Builders' Association, brought two plans in for single family dwellings that he took from a website dealing with house plans. "One plan is ranked as one of the most popular houses," he said. Arner pointed out the building heights measured to the roof of the two plans were 36 feet and 39 feet respectively and with chimneys the heights increased to 40 feet and 46 feet. "Both of these plans would be required to have variances if the height is changed," he said.

Supervisors thanked Arner but did not comment on the plans he presented as samples. There was no resolution in the discussion, but it was clear the supervisors still were not on the same page for measuring heights.

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