Mt. Lebanon is proceeding with an amendment to its municipal zoning ordinance that would deem first-floor offices in Central Business District buildings as appropriate for conditional uses.
As directed during the Mt. Lebanon Commission’s Aug. 27 discussion session, solicitor Philip Weis will work on preparing the amendment’s wording for formal introduction, probably at the Sept. 10 regular commission meeting.
Commissioners at that time will schedule a public hearing, either during their second September meeting or at the first in October.
“That is going to be a formal public testimony that is recorded as part of the ordinance discussion,” assistant municipal manager Ian McMeans said.
The intent of the amendment is to create a more vibrant atmosphere by encouraging restaurants and retail establishments as tenants along Washington Road, rather than professional and medical offices.
“The current ordinance allows offices as a matter of right on the first floor,” Weis said. He explained changing the ordinance as proposed “would require conditional-use approval from the commission in order to establish a new office on the first floor.”
Offices now in operation would be grandfathered, and the spaces could continue to function in similar capacities even after changes in ownership or the types of services being offered.
“The right to continue is a right that applies to the use, but not to the particular business that is exercising that use,” Weis said.
Commissioners also considered an amendment to make Washington Road first-floor offices nonconforming uses, by which variances could be sought through the municipal Zoning Hearing Board.
In July, two commissioners said they favored the nonconforming-use option, and two others were for conditional use. The preference of Steve McLean, commission president, is to maintain the zoning ordinance as is.
At the latest discussion session, Kelly Fraasch, Craig Grella and Steve Silverman agreed to pursue an amendment containing language specifying conditional use, as drafted by Weis.
“We’ve also distributed it to groups of property owners,” McMeans said, “and the Mt. Lebanon Partnership and Economic Development Council had a chance to review it.”
The EDC, an advisory board to the commission, and the nonprofit Partnership, with its mission “to create a vibrant community in Mt. Lebanon,” recommended the zoning ordinance be revised.
Property owners, though, have questioned the effects on their viability by limiting certain types of tenants.