Energy Sovereignty

Archives from the Stop the PSU Pipeline Campaign and the early days of CITY-GREEN

Nonconforming Use

Letter from Acting Borough Zoning Officer/Planner Anne Messner to Jim California, designer with Buchart Horn, regarding design review board , zoning staff and planning staff review of preliminary West Campus Steam Plant conversion plans.

Residents have been pondering another set of questions about the proposed conversion of the West Campus Steam Plant from coal to natural gas fuel:

Is a gas-fired power plant a non-conforming use in the zoning district, particularly as far as gas storage and combustion on-site, and if so, how does that change the public notice, plan review and permitting process?

See Borough Ordinances, Chapter XIX. Zoning, including the UPD District section and Part E – Nonconforming Buildings and Uses. The UPD ordinance was apparently updated in 2010 (Ordinance 1953) but the link wasn’t working when I tried just now.

Two key excerpts from Supplementary Provisions Section 2001:

  • a. Exceptions. The provisions of this ordinance shall not apply to any existing or proposed building, structure, use or extension thereof used or to be used by public utility corporations if, upon petition of the corporation, the Public Utility Commission shall, after public hearing, decide that the present or proposed location of the building in question is reasonably necessary for the convenience and welfare of the public.
  • b. Prohibitions…(4) The process or assembly, manufacture or treatment constituting an unusually hazardous use and including, but not limited to, such things as the manufacture of bulk storage or explosives and the manufacture or storage of illuminating gas or other explosives or poisonous gases, except as may be necessary and incidental to a permitted industrial process.”
  • b. Prohibitions…(5) The storage of crude oil or any of its volatile products or other inflammable liquids in aboveground tanks with capacity greater than 550 gallons, unless such tanks (up to and including 10,000-gallon capacity) are placed not less than 50 feet from all property lines; unless such tanks of more than 10,000-gallon capacity are placed not less than 100 feet from all property lines and are properly diked to provide a pooling capacity equal to 11⁄2 times the capacity of the tank or tanks surrounded.
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