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Pa. man disputes property zoning

A Pennsylvania zoning board will hear testimony in a real estate dispute with a man who claims officials have tagged his property with the incorrect zoning.

The man owns a house and a small electronics shop on Freedom Road in the community of Cranberry. The problem is that his property is zoned for residential use only. Across the street sits property with commercial zoning, including a shopping plaza and a supermarket.

The man asked the local zoning board to consider changing his property's zoning designation to accommodate his shop, but it refused. He subsequently appealed to the Butler County Court of Common Pleas, contending his property has been treated differently from neighboring properties. Now, that court has sent it back to Cranberry, with the judge stating the board should have allowed the man to present testimony to back his case.

The man's property is in a neighborhood that allows homes, apartments and businesses that will not change the character of the community. Regulations ban chain restaurants and big box stores.

Cranberry officials said the zoning for the area was intended to please residents of an adjacent neighborhood, who wanted to keep the residential character of their neighborhood while at the same time allowing for commercial development.

Still, homeowners in that area are not happy that Cranberry officials have designated their neighborhood as a "Community Character District," stating that being part of such a district provides too many barriers to property development.

In the case of the electronics-store owner, the zoning hearing board is scheduled to hear the case soon. Once testimony is given, the judge in the County Court of Common Pleas will rule.

Anytime a person purchases a property, the zoning of the area must be confirmed, especially if the area is not built out. Prospective buyers must perform due diligence to make sure they do not face any surprises down the road about what is moving into the neighborhood or how they can use their own property.

Source: Cranberry Patch, "Freedom Road Appeal Heads Back to Cranberry Zoning Board," Jessica Sinichak, Oct. 29, 2012

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