Commissioner’s Column

Commissioner head shot
Craig Grella, Commissioner, Ward 4

Zoning, at its core, represents a basic “police power” wielded by municipalities to guide land use, development, and construction. And while many people think of zoning only in its relation to things like driveway and fence permits, zoning is a critical component of municipal sustainability, diversity, and sustained property values. Zoning regulations will ensure that our future land development aligns with community goals enshrined in the comprehensive plan recently adopted by the Commission.

Through zoning, we designate unique areas for residential, commercial, industrial, and mixed-use properties which directly influences the diversity and vibrancy of our neighborhoods. It dictates permissible projects within those specific districts, which directly impacts real estate values and investment opportunities.

Understanding the relationship between zoning and property values reveals a multifaceted impact on municipalities like Mt Lebanon. Zoning serves as a regulatory framework that shapes the economic landscape by influencing several key areas:

• Zoning directly affects where people live, work, and engage in recreational activities. This, in turn, influences the demand for residential, commercial, and industrial spaces, thereby impacting property values across different zones.

• The zoning status of a property determines its legal use, financial viability, and physical development potential. For instance, commercial zoning dictates the types of businesses that can operate, affecting both the value and attractiveness of the property to potential investors and local business owners. Similarly, residential zoning impacts property values through restrictions on developments, such as setbacks, home sizes, and density requirements, which can limit or enhance a property’s appeal and, consequently, its market value.

Among the most often heard complaints related to zoning and real estate development is the idea of density. Residents have expressed their comfortability with the current density of our neighborhoods but have also acknowledged our need to change and grow to remain relevant and economically viable. Increased density, where appropriately planned, can help us achieve smart growth, but density for density’s sake is never a good idea.

Evaluating zoning laws is crucial for new homebuyers and as such, Mt. Lebanon must be flexible in our development of holistic zoning codes, ensuring that our zoning acts as a robust framework for strategic development while preserving community values and promoting sustainable growth.

Our comprehensive plan is, well, comprehensive, but it must be backstopped by a holistic zoning framework. We have a unique opportunity to create such a framework and should use all the resources at our disposal to make that happen.

Now is the time to let your voice be heard. If you care about how we develop our neighborhoods, contact your commissioner and the municipal management and demand a holistic review of Mt Lebanon’s zoning codes. It is the key to the evolving needs of our community and ensuring a future that is more adaptable, inclusive, and sustainable.