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Street's identity determined

May 09, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The identity crisis facing Locust Street was laid to rest Monday when Waynesboro's borough solicitor told the planning commission she feels that Locust Street is, indeed, a street and not an alley.

The planning commission then made a recommendation to the Waynesboro Borough Council that it approve development plans for a single-family house on Locust Street, ending several months of back-and-forth talk about whether the house could front what some believed to be an alley.

The planners' recommendation came with several remarks to the council that it needs to address safety with developers Darwyn Benedict and Mike Henicle.

"The fire chief was concerned about the street/alley being very narrow. Because of the narrowness, it's difficult to respond to emergency situations," Planning Commission Chairman Jon Fleagle said.

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Solicitor Melissa Dively said she did "a good deal of research" before making an ad hoc determination that Locust Street is a nonconforming street because it predates the zoning ordinance, is used as frontage for other houses and is recognized by the U.S. Postal Service.

She cautioned that her determination should not be viewed as a blanket one for all throughways in the borough that are in a gray area regarding whether they are alleys or streets.

The issue of Locust Street's designation developed when building the house was first proposed earlier this year. Houses in Waynesboro are not permitted to front an alley, and borough officials said Locust Street had never been ordained as a street.

Because the potential property owners will see the 12-foot-wide street when purchasing a home there, they will not have a strong case to pressure the borough council to improve or widen the street, Dively said.

"You'd have to demolish structures to make it wider," Fleagle said.

"My concern is just the safety," Planning Commission Member Kim Shockey said. "That scares me to death."

Fire Chief Ron Flegel had said that by increasing the number of houses on the street, the potential for an emergency there also increases. The street is too narrow for responders to maneuver around their firetrucks with the doors open, he said.

"That's why it's only one house," Benedict said, adding that the developers chose not to propose town houses.

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