Hollidaysburg zoning board nixes new parking

Residents struggling to find spaces along borough streets

HOLLIDAYSBURG — While all in the borough council chambers agreed on the parking crisis before them, the zoning board denied a request by the Presbyterian Village of Hollidaysburg to add parking spaces in a specific lot.

Leadership of the home on Jackson Street sought a zoning variance to allow a parking lot complete with manicured green space to be constructed on a vacant lot in the northwest corner of Betts and Jackson streets.

The variance was needed because the lot is almost 2,000 square feet smaller than the minimum space required by ordinance.

However, the board found it difficult under the borough’s ordinances to allow the variance because engineers testified that a residence could be built on that lot, and a variance could only be legally approved if it could have no other use.

A large crowd of Presbyterian Village residents looking forward to not having to battle for curbside parking were disappointed Wednes­day by the decision.

But among the crowd of about 30 people, there were a few longtime residents of the neighborhood who were glad.

The plan could have made the parking crisis in the Gaysport neighborhood worse, some said. The lot would have been reserved for Presbyterian Village residents only and would eliminate some curbside parking.

In theory, more public curbside parking could result for homeowners who have lived in the neighborhood long before the Presbyterian home opened if home residents no longer parked on the street. But that could not be guaranteed, said Margaret Hostler.

“People will park wherever they dang well they please,” she said.

Hostler lives across from the Presbyterian home and has struggled to park along the curb in front of her house since the building was constructed in 2015 and streets became clogged with cars of new residents.

The Presbyterian Village at Hollidaysburg is expecting between five and eight more residents in September.

Presbyterian Village Executive Director Jeremy Schrader was not part of the organization in 2015 but inherited the parking crisis.

He was understanding of the decision.

“We will regroup and come up with another solution,” Schrader said after the hearing.

The Hollidaysburg Community Watchdog group, lead by borough resident Richard Latker, was leery of the proposed parking lot’s effect on residents like Hostler. The group was hoping for the board to decide against granting the variance.

“It was the only possible legal position the board could have taken,” Latker said.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.