Residents of Stanton Heights urged City Council today to approve the Planning Department’s recommendation that the prevailing residential zoning be designated R1D-L. (Council will sleep on it and take a preliminary vote next week.)
In case zoning is not your bailiwick, R1D-L stands for “residential single-unit detached/low density.” Zoning affects everyone in the city but most of us glaze over even at the thought of learning it. I'm trying to get the hang of it because I like remote tribal languages and this one coincides with English occasionally.
The Planning Department has been systematically updating prevailing neighborhood zoning designations through its “Map Pittsburgh” project to make designations compatible with prevailing use. Stanton Heights has other proposed zoning designations under the Map Pittsburgh updates besides the R1D-L.
Read carefully because there may be a quiz:
R1D, or residential single-unit detached, allows for one house per lot with no shared walls.
R2, or residential/two family, permits single-family detached, single-family attached and two-family dwelling units.
RM, or residential multi-unit, allows four or more units within one building.
H, or steep slopes... H?... think “hillsides.” And don’t think of building on them without consulting the city’s steep-slopes ordinance.
P stands for parks and reserves land for parks, cemeteries, and publicly owned green spaces.
UI stands for urban industrial and permits industrial and residential uses.
Part of the reason some people in Stanton Heights have been so supportive of R1D-L is to fend off proposals of big noisy things, as a school is perceived to be. Neighborhood Academy, a small school that focuses on college-preparatory training for kids who wouldn't normally get to college, proposes to relocate from its Penn Avenue quarters in Garfield to 7.86 acres of a wooded lot bounded on two sides by North Aiken and Rosecrest in Stanton Heights.
With the zoning Stanton Heights wants, a school would need to get "conditional use" approval on the site the Neighborhood Academy bought.
There's sometimes confusion about how low- and high-density designations are applied in zoning. Low density allows for larger lot sizes, such as the suburban-like yards of Stanton Heights, and it doesn't mean a building can't be big.
A high density designation is about smaller lot sizes, but a lot of people think it means you can amass big buildings. One example of high density is 20-foot-wide rowhouses.
Neighborhood Academy already owns its land in Stanton Heights and got land-use approval last year from the planning commission, with conditions, which the zoning administrator approved, satisfied they were met.
The Stanton Heights Community Organization is appealing and has a hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals on June 24.
Jody Moore, president of the school, said the school administration has done everything by the book and has several times tried outreach to one and then another neighborhood group.
"I know we are going to be an asset. Our kids do amazing community service. We want the campu to be open to people. We plan adult education there, and it would be a great opportunity for them [residents] to volunteer."
Residents Jean Bryant and Howard Herrington both live more-or-less up against the wooded area where the school would be. They say they are concerned about losing the woodsy quiet and that the school will generate noise, traffic and overcrowded parking conditions.