The Kiski Township Planning Commission and township supervisors will hold hearings over the next two weeks to change zoning ordinances to create a business district along Route 56.
The township is proposing to change the zoning classification of approximately 175 properties bordering Route 56.
Most are zoned agricultural or agricultural/residential. They would move to a new business district classification.
The new commercial zoning designation would not change the tax status or rates for residents in the commercial zone, Supervisor Chuck Rodnicki said.
Rodnicki is also a member of the township’s planning commission, which crafted the proposed change.
More than half of the approximately 9 miles of Route 56 through the township are long stretches of undeveloped country roads. Small clusters of neat houses lined with colorful beds of zinnias and coreopsis are, to a lesser extent, broken up by abandoned buildings and small businesses.
It’s 17 miles of township road to nowhere, a resident noted, because Route 56 leaves populated areas such as Apollo and leads to more heavily rural areas in Indiana County.
Kiski Township Supervisors would like to change this.
“We hope to bring new businesses and residences to the township,” Rodnicki said.
While zoning can open development opportunities, it can also control expansion, he pointed out.
“We don’t want to be a Pittsburgh or a Derry Township,” he said.
At Schultz’s Sportsmen’s Stop, a 55-year-old store along Route 56 that has sold guns and hunting gear to generations of locals, change is on the minds of many.
Owner Debbie Schultz, a Kiski Township native and resident of Parks Township, supports the township’s growth “if it’s done right and zoning ordinances protecting residents’ rights and property values are enforced.”
“We all need to take the time to get the business district zoning information. I need to know more to know if it benefits the residents or not.
The township’s zoning ordinance needed a major update because it went into effect 34 years ago, Rodnicki said. The planning commission has been working on the changes for about a decade.
The proposed business district would include businesses with low to moderate noise and traffic impact, Rodnicki said.
There will be no high-impact industrial enterprises. These are limited to industrial areas, none of which are along Highway 56, he said.
“The new business district will be controlled,” Rodnicki said. “We’re not going to let a machine shop into a nice neighborhood.”
Noisy or disruptive businesses with moderate impact, such as clinics and animal shelters or auto and auto repair service shops, should go to the township planning commission and then supervisors for conditional use approval , Rodnicki said.
“There are many protections for landowners,” he said. “There will be no auto repair shop in a residential area.”
Businesses permitted in the business district would include adult day care centers, paper arts and crafts shops, art galleries, bakeries, banks, bicycle sales, boat and boat sales , catering and markets, he said.
Other protections for residents include signage control for a neighbor who can’t just tear down a bright digital sign, he said.
Bringing more stores would help residents, especially seniors, said Bill Baum, who has lived in a house along Route 56 with his wife, Cindy, for 10 years.
“We need a Walmart or some kind of store like that,” he said. “With Kmart in Allegheny Township closed, we have nothing.”
The couple must travel to Harrison, Indiana or Delmont to shop at larger stores.
While attracting a department store to the immediate area can be difficult, Baum said, a variety of additional stores nearby would be helpful.
More shopping opportunities would be invaluable for older residents who might not travel long distances or drive at all, the couple said.
Read the prescription
A copy of the proposed zoning ordinance is available to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays at the Township Municipal Building, 1222A Old State Road.
Mary Ann Thomas is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Mary by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .