News on the Green reached out to other government and agency officials for opinions on zoning. What follows are the responses that were returned.
Marcia Hirschmann, director of planning and development, city of Hermitage, Pa.
What are the advantages of zoning?
“The ability of the community to determine the best locations for different types of uses, and guidelines for those uses, so as to protect the public health, safety and welfare and to protect property values within the community and assure that land uses are located in appropriate locations, such as commercial uses located on streets designed for (the) traffic that would be generated, and in locations with appropriate utilities. (It) provides everyone in the community with some predictability as to where development will occur, and that it will be somewhat orderly and logical.”
What are the disadvantages of zoning?
“There would be costs to the municipality to administer and enforce zoning ordinances – the community would need to determine if those costs are worth the advantages. Although some of the costs could be offset with permit fees. Individual property owners may see zoning as a disadvantage if they can no longer do just whatever they want on their property, such as operating a business within an area that is zoned solely residential.”
Does zoning cause taxes to go up?
“I do not believe that it would, just by comparing a non-zoned property to a zoned property or community. Taxes would be based on the methodology of the county (or other entity) assessment process. However, if a community does not require building permits and zoning causes them to now be required, that could cause assessments to “catch up” with property improvements more quickly than might otherwise be the case.”
Is zoning an infringement on a property owner’s rights?
“Well, compared to no zoning, it certainly places some limits on what a property owner can do with their property. On the other hand, it might protect a property owner’s rights, or at least their property value, from infringement by undesirable uses or development on adjacent or nearby properties.”
Does zoning attract or inhibit business development?
“That’s hard to say whether there is a direct correlation. I don’t think that it inhibits most businesses. Our experience has been that businesses and developers expect and accept zoning as just one part of the expected requirements. The exception is sometimes the small “one man” homegrown business, operating on a shoestring that sometimes struggles to comply with zoning or any other regulations.”
Jeremy Coxe, assistant director of planning and development, city of Hermitage, Pa.
“Not everyone is of the same opinion on zoning, like most other things going on in the country right now, especially (in) a community that has never had it or not really enforced it much. There are always going to be two sides to the argument and different people impacted in different ways, positive and negative. On one hand, if a community has no zoning, any use can go anywhere, usually without regulation or many restrictions, a positive that a property owner can ”do what they want with the property they own.” (It) may be negative to the property owner right next to them that (has) a completely different use and doesn’t want that type of use in their back yard.”
Sarah Boyarko, senior vice president for economic development for Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber.
“I could not say if the lack of zoning has hindered development in Brookfield, but having zoning regulations in a community can only be supportive to a planned approach for development. Based on my experience, companies prefer to be in an area that is zoned for their process (industrial, commercial, etc.) They prefer to be located with like companies, for example a planned industrial area. Companies want to be good neighbors and be enabled to run their facility without potential roadblocks. They want to be located in an area where they are welcome and won’t be a hindrance to their neighbors, commercial or residential. Companies prefer to have a full understanding of all regulations as they come into a community, and zoning is a part of that. With a good comprehensive plan and zoning that presents planned business areas, a community has a better chance of securing the most appropriate investment for their community. A haphazard approach doesn’t benefit anyone, companies or residents.”
Trish Nuskievicz, executive director of Trumbull County Planning Commission
“For the most part, I think it helps (attract development.) You know what your neighbor can do on their property if you’re purchasing property there. You don’t want an incompatible use next door, whether your property is residential or business.