The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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April 21, 2013

Ristvey repeat rezoning request riles residents

HERMITAGE — Michael Ristvey is again asking for a rezoning of residential property overlooking North Hermitage Road and neighbors are again asking city commissioners to kill it.

Commissioners will decide Wednesday whether they want to allow the request to go through the full review process or simply kill it from the start, as they did last time Ristvey asked for a rezoning.

The 22 acres south of Hunters Woods has been the subject of four rezoning requests since 2006. The two earliest requests were withdrawn after residents raised an uproar, but the third one, in 2008, was denied by commissioners.

In 2011, commissioners refused to introduce an ordinance for the rezoning, turning aside the request without review by the Hermitage and Mercer County planning commissions or a public hearing.

Ristvey has accused commissioners of being anti-jobs and his neighbors of using his land for all-terrain vehicles and dumping without permission, and residents accusing Ristvey of greed when there are unused and underused commercial properties existing in the city.

“To say this is a sensitive issue would be an understatement,” said Beth Pyle of 1254 Foxwood Drive.

Ristvey’s application gives no indication of potential development, only the request that the land be zoned highway commercial.

Permitted uses in a highway commercial district include small to large retail stores, restaurants, car dealerships and gas stations, Marcia A. Hirschmann, city director of planning and development, said Thursday.

“Pretty much anything you see up and down (Route) 18,” she said.

Commissioner Rhonda L. Paglia said she thinks the land would be better used for office buildings than retail.

Commissioner Rita L. Ferringer asked how many large commercial parcels are left in the city, with the land at the Shenango Valley Freeway and South Hermitage Road under development.

Hirschmann said she would compile a list for commissioners.

Ferringer said she did not think there are enough parcels “for a Target or something like that.”

Ronald Bair of 1205 Foxwood, who moved to Hermitage last fall, asked commissioners not to change the zoning classification.

Bair said he moved in for the neighborhood. “I didn’t move here for the shopping,” he said.

“There’s no question the value of our properties would be degraded,” said Steve Monroe of 1283 Foxwood. “Nobody wants that from the viewpoint of their back door.”

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