Comprehensive Zoning & SALDO Modernization Project

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Attendees of the June 23 Open House making notes on a town map.

The Town of McCandless, in consultation with Michael Baker International, is undergoing a full overhaul and modernization of the Town’s zoning and land development ordinances. The core structure of the Town’s land use code has remained in place since its original adoption in the late 1970s, and no longer suits the needs of the community. The updated ordinances will build on the community’s goals of sustainable planning and smart redevelopment identified in A McCandless Conversation, the Town’s 2019 comprehensive plan.

A year-long process is underway to analyze, evaluate, and update the current ordinances. The core team of town staff, a Task Force of community members, and Michael Baker’s urban designers and planners seek public input throughout the process to learn how you use your town, what works and doesn’t work, and what you would like to see in your town’s future.

As the project moves forward, this page will be the online hub for information about the team's progress, opportunities for public input (both online and in-person), and final draft documents that will eventually be considered for adoption by Town Council. Check back often for blog posts, participant activities, in-person meeting dates, and more!


How could the zoning modernization project impact me?

Lots of ways! If you're a Town resident, the zoning code determines things like how close your home can be to your property lines, or where you can construct a shed or pool. But zoning also affects what types of businesses are allowed to go where, how big commercial developments can be, and the ways in which the character of the Town evolves over time. Zoning policies can be hard to "see" until the results of those policies have already happened - and that's why it's important to be proactive with these ordinances in a rapidly changing world.

How can I get involved and share my thoughts?

There will be a variety of ways the public can provide comments that will be advertised in more detail throughout the year. Our next Open House event to review the code and map final drafts is tentatively scheduled for February 2023 and will be accompanied by an online Q&A forum. This follows our first Open House, held on June 23, where we shared some initial drafts of zoning district descriptions and an early draft of the new map. You can also view the previous comments left on the Preserve, Enhance, Change! map activity that ran from May through June.

Throughout it all, this project page will be your go-to for the latest ways to participate. Check back often for updates!

The Town of McCandless, in consultation with Michael Baker International, is undergoing a full overhaul and modernization of the Town’s zoning and land development ordinances. The core structure of the Town’s land use code has remained in place since its original adoption in the late 1970s, and no longer suits the needs of the community. The updated ordinances will build on the community’s goals of sustainable planning and smart redevelopment identified in A McCandless Conversation, the Town’s 2019 comprehensive plan.

A year-long process is underway to analyze, evaluate, and update the current ordinances. The core team of town staff, a Task Force of community members, and Michael Baker’s urban designers and planners seek public input throughout the process to learn how you use your town, what works and doesn’t work, and what you would like to see in your town’s future.

As the project moves forward, this page will be the online hub for information about the team's progress, opportunities for public input (both online and in-person), and final draft documents that will eventually be considered for adoption by Town Council. Check back often for blog posts, participant activities, in-person meeting dates, and more!


How could the zoning modernization project impact me?

Lots of ways! If you're a Town resident, the zoning code determines things like how close your home can be to your property lines, or where you can construct a shed or pool. But zoning also affects what types of businesses are allowed to go where, how big commercial developments can be, and the ways in which the character of the Town evolves over time. Zoning policies can be hard to "see" until the results of those policies have already happened - and that's why it's important to be proactive with these ordinances in a rapidly changing world.

How can I get involved and share my thoughts?

There will be a variety of ways the public can provide comments that will be advertised in more detail throughout the year. Our next Open House event to review the code and map final drafts is tentatively scheduled for February 2023 and will be accompanied by an online Q&A forum. This follows our first Open House, held on June 23, where we shared some initial drafts of zoning district descriptions and an early draft of the new map. You can also view the previous comments left on the Preserve, Enhance, Change! map activity that ran from May through June.

Throughout it all, this project page will be your go-to for the latest ways to participate. Check back often for updates!

  • Open House Summary

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    From our consultants at Michael Baker International:

    There was a great turn out at the June 23 Open House. Many thoughtful and engaging comments and conversations were collected during the event. We talked with residents about zoning districts, density, and residential and commercial uses as well as traffic, safety, dark skies, and more. Below is a summary of the comments we received and how they will be incorporated in the project. You can view PDFs of the boards that were presented here.

    Several of the proposed commercial zoning districts were discussed. Concerns were raised that the proposed districts for the park gateway, Target/former cinema, and the flats areas may be too dense for these areas. On the other hand, there were suggestions that some pockets along Perry Highway and Rt. 19 could support higher densities than proposed. We will re-evaluate these areas based on the comments and insights provided to identify where to adjust the proposed zoning district locations.

    Other conversations about the proposed zoning districts focused on the names of the districts. We heard that many of the proposed names suggested different interpretations than intended. We will therefore also revisit the district names to better align them with the district intents.

    We heard many concerns about how uses are defined in Zoning and where they will be permitted. We will ensure that we provide clear and consistent definitions for uses in the code. While the courts have determined that no use can be entirely banned from locating within a municipality’s boundaries, we will incorporate standards for separating nuisance uses from residential areas based on best practices in zoning.

    Additional conversations were had about environmental concerns, density in the residential areas, and buffers between residential and commercial uses. Over the next few months as we start to draft the regulations that touch on these areas, we will use these comments to guide the text and make sure we are following best practices for these issues.

    Many traffic and safety issues were brought up. We will incorporate sidewalk requirements for new developments into the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (SALDO) that is being developed alongside the zoning code. We will also incorporate regulations for bicycles and site layout standards that promote safe access by bicyclists, walkers, and drivers into the Zoning Code. Other traffic concerns such as the placement of crosswalks and traffic light patterns are informative and help identify areas that can safely support more density and multi-modal approaches within the SALDO and Zoning Codes. All of the Mapping Activity comments are being shared with the town staff for their continued reference and awareness.

    Another theme of the conversations and comments at the Open House was about how the public can be engaged in this project. We heard that the printed mailer and our presentation to Council were useful to reach residents who do not use digital resources regularly. We will work with the town staff to continue to incorporate multiple modes of outreach throughout the remainder of the project.

    Thank you for all the great comments and conversations!

  • June 23 Open House Presentation

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    Did you miss the Open House on June 23? The public presentation is posted here as a viewable PDF. Based on resident requests, we have also decided to extend the online mapping activity through July 4. And see photos from the event on the June 24 post here.

    Over 60 community members came out to learn more about the project and share their visions for the future of McCandless. The Open House included five stations for community members to learn about the Zoning Modernization Project and provide their feedback:

    • What is Zoning? Purpose & Impact
      Zoning language can be technical and dry. This station provided an understanding of what zoning does, how it works, and what a modernized zoning code can do for McCandless.


    • Future Zoning Districts
      A draft zoning district map was shared, and provided information about what each district can allow. Lots of input was received and will be shared out in the Open House summary coming in July.


    • Definitions and Uses
      This station provided information on key terms that may change in the zoning code and included visual graphics that show how those definitions change what can be built.


    • Community Visions
      The project consultant, Michael Baker International, conducted live illustrations that showed what an updated zoning code can enable at key areas and intersections where the community has indicated a desire for change.


    • Mapping Exercise “Preserve, Improve, Change!”
      Lots of attendees shared their thoughts and input on a large map of the Town of McCandless on areas for preservation, improvements, and transformational change. Want to share your voice? Visit the online version of this activity to share your input now through July 4th.
  • June 23 Open House: Thanks for coming out!

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    Speaker ID: RJ Susko, Planning Director A huge thank you to everyone that came to the June Open House! Turn-out was excellent and our team had so many interesting and thoughtful conversations with attendees on what our community hopes to see from this project. The best public engagement events are the ones where we all learn from each other, and I can say with certainty that happened last night.

    Check out some photos of the evening below and stay tuned for a future round-up post from the Michael Baker team on what we heard and where the project is headed next. If you couldn't make it out this time, we hope you'll join us for our second open house being scheduled for the fall where completed drafts of the new code will be presented to the community. A replay of the consultants' presentation is also available to watch here.

    Attendees discussing a draft zoning map with the consultants.

    A photo of the meeting room with many attendees engaging with the team at learning stations and receiving a presentation from the consultants.Attendees making notes on a printed version of the "Preserve, Enhance, Change!" map activity.

    One of the learning stations at the event titled "What Is Zoning?" that reviews zoning's legal purpose, what is a zoning district, and how the Comprehensive Plan informs this process.

    A photo of the map activity board at the end of the night, covered with lots of post-it notes.


  • North Journal: McCandless seeks input for rezoning through online mapping activity

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    Read our local paper's coverage of the Mapping McCandless online activity and more information about the goals of the project here!

  • Blog post #2: Your Comprehensive Plan - Zoning makes it possible

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    Speaker bubble: From Michael Baker International, our planning consultant team.

    In 2019, the Town of McCandless adopted “A McCandless Conversation” as your comprehensive plan. One of the implementation steps identified in this plan is to update the zoning and subdivision and land development (SALDO) ordinances to incorporate the community’s goals and vision for the future. As your consultant on this update, we will advise on zoning and SALDO best practices that can support your goals and vision. Below are examples of how regulations in the zoning code can guide development to support the five key issues identified in “A McCandless Conversation.”


    Active Transportation & Connectivity

    Zoning regulates parking. By reducing the number of car parking spaces that developers must provide and instead requiring or encouraging other types of parking, such as for bikes or scooters, zoning can encourage active transportation choices. Zoning can further support this by encouraging site design that makes access easier from active transportation methods than from cars.

    Key term: "Active transportation" means ways of getting around that keep you moving - think walking and biking.


    Community Activities

    Zoning can encourage town-sponsored community activities, programs, and events by including community center as a permitted use in one or more zoning districts that cover central and accessible locations. Developers can also be encouraged to design spaces in mixed-use developments where a variety of groups can hold events and activities, such as the "town green" in McCandless Crossing.


    Green Space & Sustainability

    Zoning can encourage green space and sustainability in multiple ways. For example, through the zoning districts and their permitted uses, a low intensity zoning district can be established to protect current green spaces and environmentally sensitive areas. Parks and trails can be included as permitted uses in multiple districts to encourage the development of a greater diversity of recreational green spaces throughout the town.

    Zoning can also encourage sustainability through supplemental regulations. These regulations can require or encourage developers to provide street trees, landscaping, and on-site stormwater management interventions and to use permeable pavement for parking lots and other surfaces.


    Redevelopment

    Zoning can encourage dense, walkable, mixed-use development by allowing a diversity of uses within the higher intensity zoning districts. This combines well with the approaches identified above for Active Transportation & Connectivity and Green Space & Sustainability. As new zoning code regulations cannot be applied retroactively to existing uses, it is through redevelopment that the regulations will begin to influence change.


    Community Identity & Public Engagement

    Zoning can support placemaking strategies and the promotion of a town identity through sign regulations that permit decorative banners and neighborhood signs. Also, using the zoning districts to encourage growth in strategic areas may lead to the development of neighborhood nodes and uses that will show people who currently use McCandless as a pass-through that they are in a community that is the heart of Pittsburgh’s northern suburbs.


    Share your ideas!

    Check out our new "Preserve, Enhance, Change" mapping activity! Navigate around the map and leave colored pins to tell us what you love about McCandless, what you'd like to improve upon, and where you envision transformation in the years to come. Your input will help guide us through determining what your updated zoning regulations should allow or limit.

  • Blog post #1: Project Kick-off

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    Welcome to the McCandless Zoning and Land Development Ordinance Modernization project blog! Throughout 2022 you will see blog posts from members of the team keeping you posted on what we're up to, what we're learning, and what the community has to say as we work towards a new zoning code and map.

    Click here to read the full blog post and see a general overview of the project, who the core team members are, and some early notes from Michael Baker International's due diligence review.




    Graphic including three text boxes with information about the project. First text box header says "Educate. Inform. Assess." First text box paragraph says "How does zoning impact places around McCandless and your everyday activities? Coming soon: Keep, Change, Enhance! Mapping Activity and Conversation Cards: Zoning and you". Second text box header says "Engage. Listen. Iterate." Second text box paragraph says "What do McCandless residents want to preserve and protect, enhance and improve, or transform and grow? Stay tuned for: Virtual Reality Visioning Survey. Public Workshop Summer 2022." Third text box header says "Build Buy-In, Understanding, and Capacity." Third text box paragraph says: "Input from Town staff and residents will guide the standards, requirements, and processes which will be written into your Zoning and SALDO Ordinances. A Public Meeting will be held before Town Council approves and adopts the updated Ordinances. Stay tuned for draft chapters and illustrated summaries of updates. Public meeting: Winter 2022."


    "Who's Speaking" bubble indicating Michael Baker International is covering this section.What is the project?

    The Town of McCandless is updating its zoning code, zoning map, and subdivision and land development ordinance (SALDO) to align with the community's current needs.


    Text box graphic with HEADER that says "What is zoning?" Body text: "Zoning is an ordinance - a local law - designed to protect public health, safety, and welfare and to guide growth. Zoning provides site-specific standards for properties."Text box graphic with HEADER that says: "What is SALDO?" Body text: "SALDO stands for Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance. SALDO applies uniformly across the Town (not site-specific). It provides design standards, including street and stormwater controls, for example."


    Who is involved?

    Town Staff: RJ Susko and Robert Grimm
    Task Force: Judy Bishop, Trish Cloonan, Ann Clarke, Marcy Pearson, Donna Radock, Shelly Sponholz, and Kim Zachary
    Consultant: Michael Baker International Urban Design Studio
    Community: You and your neighbors

    The Task Force is a focus group of residents appointed by Town Council and brings a wealth of experience from fields such as engineering, architecture, residential and commercial real estate and development, and IT. The Michael Baker team includes specialists in planning, zoning, community engagement, and urban design.


    How can you and your neighbors participate?

    The McCandless and Me project page will be regularly updated with the latest activities for public participation. There will be opportunities to provide feedback in surveys and workshops throughout the project. The first workshop will be held in the summer of 2022.


    "Who's Speaking" bubble indicating Town Planner RJ Susko is covering this section.Why are we updating these ordinances?

    Our community identified five priority policy areas in the 2019 comprehensive plan, A McCandless Conversation:

    1. Active Transportation & Connectivity
    2. Community Activities
    3. Green Space & Sustainability
    4. Redevelopment
    5. Community Identity & Public Engagement

    Zoning can play a pivotal role in each of these areas. Zoning informs the way we move between and throughout our community; it determines what activities we can enjoy and where; it can protect green space and encourage sustainability. A proactive, intentional approach to zoning and development will be integral to our future as a thriving community that provides the top-tier services and desirable lifestyle identified in the comprehensive plan.


    "Who's Speaking" bubble indicating Michael Baker International is covering this section.

    Where are we in the process?

    Michael Baker International started our review of the existing conditions in December. We read and reviewed A McCandless Conversation, the current zoning code and SALDO, the greenspace inventory, the road and park management system, and the Port Authority's NEXTransit Plan which proposed transit upgrades along McKnight Road. We took a tour of McCandless with RJ Susko in January. During the tour, we explored what works and what doesn't as well as the opportunities and challenges around town including stops at:

    • McCandless Crossing
    • UPMC Passavant
    • Perry Highway South
    • The Wexford Flats
    • Ingomar
    • The border with North Park
    • Pine Creek
    • Duncan Manor shops
    • A variety of residential neighborhoods

    Conversations with RJ and the Task Force highlighted the difficulties caused by the lack of organization in the current code, the need for a code that promotes flexibility providing pathways for smart redevelopment of sites when the current uses become obsolete, and the desire for redevelopment that supports and encourages a walkable community.


    What's next?

    In the coming months, we will be reviewing the existing zoning districts, identifying the community's neighborhood centers, and developing new zoning districts based on this review and the goals of A McCandless Conversation.

Page last updated: 20 Oct 2022, 01:18 PM