Government does not pick and choose businesses

Published Sep 25, 2013 at 9:48 am (Updated Sep 25, 2013 at 11:07 am)

When I read the recent editorial calling on the Peters Township Planning Commission to “Do a better Job” when it comes to new restaurants in the community, I was surprised that the Editor would have such little knowledge on how this process works. As a 10+ year member of the Bethel Park Planning and Zoning Commission I had to come to the defense of my fellow commissioners.

The editorial staff of the Alamanc needs some education on how the process works. It is not governments’ job to pick and choose what type of businesses open on a vacant parcel. It is governments’ job to make sure the business adheres to the zoning laws of that parcel (ie, size of building, number of parking spaces, storm water management, lighting and so forth). It is the individual entrepreneur who wishes to risk his or her investment to open a business no matter if there is another type business right next door or not. As long as it meets the zoning requirements government has no say in the particular type of business in a certain area. It is economical circumstances that will determine if that business is successful or not, no matter if there are 10 types of that business in the same block. It is called “free market”. Following the Editor’s logic, if there are too many red houses on your block, government should make some of the residents paint theirs blue.

There are some businesses that Bethel Park has an abundance of, but yet, when an application is entered, as one has been recently, we must review the property’s zoning and if it adheres, we are required by law to pass it on to council. If we reject it because we do not want another type of that business, the municipality will be subject to a challenge in court that will cost taxpayers thousands of dollars and will ultimately lose.

There is a national pharmacy on Route 88 that advertises a 24/365 open-door shopping experience. That location closes every evening at the end of the work day and is not open 24 hours. Why? Because that parcel of property is not zoned for 24 hour operation. The property is too close to residential property. It was the Planning and Zoning Commission that “did its Job” to protect the neighborhood from a 24-hour operation.

The editorial staff should educate themselves on a subject before they chastise a body of government that is a volunteer commission and gives of its time and talent to make its community a better place to live and work.

Rick Raeder

Bethel Park

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