zoning changes despite hours of testimony given by residents opposing it. The proposed zoning text and map revisions were written by the Chicago-based energy company Invenergy LLC and rezones nearly 147 acres from rural and residential land to light industrial.
This revision allows gas-fired power plants as a ‘permitted use’ in all types of industrial zones. Permitted uses require the least review of any zoning permit approval process and are usually reserved for development that is unlikely to impact the surrounding community. Power plants and other larger polluting facilities will often require a conditional use or special exception approval after review by a zoning hearing board, planning commission, or board of commissioners and must provide opportunities for public comment. However, permitted uses generally only require approval by the zoning officer and the public does not have an opportunity to comment on the proposed development.
This controversial ordinance and zoning decision is being closely monitored by local residents and Yough Communities CARE and the decision is likely to be legally challenged.
For some context, it is now as easy to build a gas-fired power plant in Elizabeth Township as it is to build a garden center, which is also listed as a ‘permitted use’ in Elizabeth Township’s Light Industrial District.
Zoning Map for Allegheny Energy Center. Map produced by Pennoni.
Aerial photo of proposed Invenergy AEC site. Image Courtesy of Mountain Watershed Association.