W-B zoning changes to be unveiled

October 4, 2012

WILKES-BARRE – The public will have the opportunity to comment on the city's proposed changes to its zoning ordinance and map at a public meeting next week.

William Harris, director of planning and zoning/zoning officer, said the updates took nearly three years to complete and include numerous changes.

"It makes decisions a lot easier," Harris said Wednesday.

Among other changes, the amended ordinance defines tattoo parlor. In the past it was categorized as a "use not addressed," Harris said.

City council will take public comments on the changes next Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. and consider enacting the ordinance and map at its meeting to follow at 6 p.m.

Areas along the Susquehanna River, Coal Street and Hollenback Park will be designated as open-space and parks, a switch from the S-1 or special purpose zoning. S-1 areas are designated for colleges, universities, schools of music, art and dance, central offices and residential uses of a high density. The ordinance also eliminated the S-2 or central office designation because it was repetitious with S-1.

While those changes are significant, the most important part of the proposed ordinance is the flood plain, which has not been updated since 1992, he said.

In that time the Wyoming Valley Levee System was improved and the flood plain maps redrawn.

The ordinance must be approved before Nov. 2, Harris said, adding, "That's when the new flood map takes place."

The city paid for the ordinance and map updates with land use planning and technical assistance grants from the state, Harris said. It hired Jack Varaly, a consultant and former city employee, to do the work.

What's next

Wilkes-Barre city council will hold a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday on the proposed amendments to the city zoning ordinance and map. Council will consider enacting the ordinance and map at the meeting to follow at 6 p.m. in council chambers.