HERMITAGE Rezoning plan brings opposition

Robert Glimcher said it appears the developer is planning a store of at least 200,000 square feet.
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- The owner of Hermitage Hills Plaza has added his voice to the opposition against rezoning 14.6 acres along the Shenango Valley Freeway for commercial use.
Robert Glimcher of Glimcher Group Inc., Pittsburgh, spoke out during a city planning commission meeting Monday.
"If this is rezoned, the value of my land will drop," Glimcher said, noting his property is directly across the Shenango Valley Freeway from the site where Heritage Development Co. of Moreland Hills, Ohio, wants to put a commercial development.
About half of the 28-acre site is zoned for commercial use, but Heritage wants the city to rezone an additional 14.6 acres from office building district and single-family residential to central commercial.
Sees no need: Glimcher said his plaza has a lot of vacancies and argued there is sufficient commercial space available for development.
A 28-acre parcel would indicate Heritage is planning a major department store of 200,000 square feet or more, Glimcher said, noting that Wal-Mart, with a store on the freeway just a quarter mile from this site, could be interested in building one of its Super Center stores in the Heritage project.
That would leave another big empty commercial property -- something the city doesn't need, he said.
Glimcher said, however, that his company is also talking to Wal-Mart about building a Super Center in Hermitage Hills Plaza.
No tenants yet: Donald R. Frantz, senior vice president of development for Heritage, said his company has no tenants lined up for the site. This is a question of appropriate land use, Frantz said, suggesting that commercial development would be the best use of the property.
Frantz said Hermitage has agreed to create a 130-foot-wide buffer zone along the north side of Morefield Road to separate the development from the adjoining residential area. He said an additional 50-foot buffer will be required by city zoning regulations for a total separation of 180 feet.
Further, Heritage will put deed restrictions on that buffer zone to guarantee it can never be used to make an access road from Morefield into the development site. All access will be off the freeway and state Route 18, he said.
Glimcher warned the planning commission that once Heritage owns all of the property in question, it could still put in an access road.
The planning commission will vote Nov. 5 to recommend that city commissioners approve or reject the rezoning request.