Revamped Latrobe zoning sets sign limitations, guidelines for charging stations
Limitations for business signs in windows and on sidewalks and guidelines for electric vehicle charging stations are among new additions to Latrobe’s zoning ordinance.
Approved by city council at its December meeting, the zoning update is the result of a months-long committee review of the ordinance with assistance from consultants with Scenic Pittsburgh.
“This is a huge undertaking that needed to be done for a very long time,” said Mayor Rosie Wolford.
New language in the ordinance limits the size of signs that businesses can display in their storefront windows.
No more than 25% of the total window area may be used for permanent signs that are etched, painted or affixed to the glass. A maximum of 35% may be covered by any combination of permanent and temporary window signs.
David Demko, assistant director of Scenic Pittsburgh, explained the reasoning behind those limits.
“You can see inside the building,” he said. “It helps to create a better link between pedestrians and the business in the building.
“The other thing is for safety. When the police drive by, they can look into the windows.”
For advertising on sidewalks, the ordinance notes businesses may display a portable A-frame or sandwich board sign during operating hours within 12 feet of the primary entrance.
At least 4 feet of sidewalk must remain unobstructed between the building and the sign, which is limited to 7 square feet per sign face and a maximum height of 3 1/2 feet.
Temporary signs advertising special events can be no larger than 4 square feet, while banners are limited to 60 square feet. They may not be displayed until 14 days before the start of the event and must be removed within seven days after it ends.
There is now a limit of two flagpoles per residential lot and three poles per lot in all other zoning districts. Residential poles can’t be taller than 25 feet, while there is a limit of feet in other zones.
Electronic or digital signs are prohibited in residential zones.
In commercial and industrial zones, signs placed on the ground may not exceed 6 feet in height, 4 feet at a corner lot. There is a 30-foot maximum height for wall signs, which may not extend above the bottom of the roof line.
A table in the ordinance specified off-street parking requirements for 40 types of non-residential property uses, ranging in alphabetical order from an auto parts store to a warehouse.
Otherwise, a minimum of one off-street parking space is required per employee plus one additional space for each 100 square feet of gross floor area — if the premises are open to the public.
In R-2 and R-4 residential zones, the minimum side yard setback for a single-family dwelling or other principal structure has been reduced from 15 feet total to 6 feet per side.
The revised zoning ordinance includes provisions for medical marijuana organizations, which would require approval as a special exception in a commercial zoning district.
The ordinance also sets guidelines for the potential location of electric vehicle charging stations. They are considered accessory structures and will be “allowed and encouraged in all districts.”
However, rapid charging stations with a voltage greater than 240 will be allowed only in commercial and industrial zones.
If the primary use is retail charging of vehicles, then the same zoning requirements will apply as for a gas station.
“This is to make sure that places like service stations or others that have parking lots, if they put in a charging station, that they meet the appropriate requirements to do so,” said councilman Ralph Jenko, who served on the zoning review committee.
Demko said he believes Latrobe is one of the first area municipalities to set provisions for the charging stations.
“These charging stations will be popping up like mushrooms soon,” he predicted. “They’ll be everywhere.”