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County will take care of Harris subdivision zoning irregularity

Richard C. Landon brought a Mabel Harris subdivision zoning problem to the Westmoreland Planning Commissioners this Monday afternoon. The commission listened and agreed to intervene.

The Harris subdivision is accessed from Polk Street and most of the subdivision is inside the incorporated limits of the Town of Montross. A portion of Landon’s lot crosses over into an unincorporated area of Westmoreland County.

To further confound matters, Landon’s Lot 12 and his grandparents’ Lot 13 are zoned Agricultural. The other Harris subdivision lots carry a Single Family Residential zoning designation.

“I recently applied for a building permit to construct a two-car garage on Lot 12,” Landon told the Westmoreland Planning Commissioners.

“During the process it was found that my lot and the adjacent Lot 13 are zoned Agricultural. It was also determined that all other lots in the Harris subdivision were zoned Single Family Residential by Westmoreland County or the Town of Montross.

“It would appear,” said Landon, “that this [Agricultural] zoning was an oversight many years ago, since both lots currently have homes on them. We are requesting that the Planning Commission consider changing our lots from Agricultural to Single Family Residential to match all of the other lots in the subdivision.”

“It’s pretty clear,” Westmoreland Zoning Administrator Robert Fink told Planning Commission members, “that all that subdivision’s lots should have been zoned residential when zoning was first established by Westmoreland County.”

Fink recommended that the county initiate action to remedy the zoning irregularity in order to ensure that Landon can “retain that property’s residential use and conform to the zoning of the adjacent land.”

“He shouldn’t have to do anything [to correct the zoning error],” Planning Commission Chairman John Felt said of the Harris subdivision resident.
“This is something that the county should correct,” Felt reasoned. “It seems reasonable for the county to correct this matter.”

County Attorney Tom Bondurant concurred that it would be appropriate for the county “to revisit the zoning issues in order to allow the property to conform to its appropriate use.”

“We’ll see if there’s anything else [in the subdivision that does not conform] and notify those owners,” Fink then stated. “There may be some who want the A-1 designation. If so, we’d have to consider what their reasons are.”

“I can’t understand why any of them would want to hold the A-1 designation,” Felt commented.

Bondurant advised the commission to direct the Land Use Office to advertise a public hearing on the matter.

The action, he explained, would “revisit the zoning classification of lots 12 and 13 in the Harris subdivision and any other lots that may be similarly situated.”

“I believe we can get that on the agenda for next month’s meeting,” County Planner Beth McDowell said.

“Sound like a plan,” was Felt’s last comment prior to adjourning the Commission’s June 6 meeting.

 

Betsy Ficklin

 

 

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