Hollidaysburg council rethinks parking

Decision-making power to remain with zoning board

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A package of suggested parking rule changes will be revised, following a unanimous decision Thursday by Borough Council members, who heeded a planning commission recommendation.

Decision-making power will remain with the Hollidaysburg Zoning Hearing Board when developers ask for parking rule-exemptions, and other rule changes will apply only to the commercial district.

Planning commission members asked for those changes at a meeting earlier this week when Richard Latker, president of the Hollidaysburg Community Watchdog group, claimed original suggested reforms had the potential to be “very, very dangerous for the community.”

Last month, Chairman Ethan Imhoff, on behalf of the planning commission, presented a number of suggested parking rule changes to council.

One of those suggestions was that parking rules be moved from the borough’s zoning ordinance to its subdivision and land development ordinance to make it less expensive and simpler for developers to secure parking-rule exceptions.

But Latker later warned the change would move the decision from the zoning hearing board to Borough Council.

Rulings by the zoning hearing board can be appealed to the courts, Latker said, adding that efforts to reverse a Borough Council decision would require a lawsuit, which could be costly and hard to win.

Planning commission members agreed and voted unanimously Tuesday to reverse their original recommendation.

There was also some question at the planning commission meeting about whether other suggested rule changes would apply to both residential and commercial districts.

“From the beginning the intention was for this to apply to commercial business districts not residential,” Imhoff said.

Those suggestions asked to change the current minimum number of parking spaces required to the maximum number required for new developments and to eliminate parking rules for existing business structures smaller than 7,000 square feet.

With a motion, Councilman Sean Burke addressed all three issues. Burke said rule-exemption requests should remain in the zoning ordinance and that the other two proposed rule changes should pertain only to the commercial district.

Council members agreed unanimously to support that position.

Solicitor Nathan Karn is working to draft an ordinance that reflects those wishes, and that ordinance will have to be approved at a later date.