Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Student housing proposal gets early approval

by RANDY WELLS rwells@indianagazette.net on April 19, 2013 11:00 AM

The Indiana Borough Planning Commission on Wednesday gave preliminary approval, with seven conditions, to a proposed controversial student housing project at 931 Oakland Ave.

B&L Properties is planning to replace the large bed-and-breakfast at that location with a three-story student housing complex that will accommodate 64 tenants.

Some neighboring property owners opposed to the project described it as a bad design for that location. They voiced concerns about traffic and parking congestion and limited access to a private alley at the rear of the property if the new structure is built there.

The structure, if approved, would be built under the borough’s traditional neighborhood development overlap zone ordinance that allows multi-use buildings in areas close to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus that are already zoned for R-2 and R-3 residential, commercial and university-related uses. A goal of the TND overlay is to encourage developers to build high-density housing close to campus to attract student-tenants there who are now living in rental properties scattered throughout the borough’s residential neighborhoods. Another goal of the TND overlay is to promote pedestrian traffic while reducing vehicle traffic.

The conditions the planning commission members want to see satisfied before final approval is granted are the inclusion of both a living buffer, such as a hedge, and a fence between the housing project and the neighbor to the north; assurance that plans for trash collection will be adequate for 64 tenants; a full-width porch for the side of the building facing Oakland Avenue; a gate at the rear near the two parking spaces for the building; inclusion of a bicycle rack on the property; and some changes to the stormwater plan and front yard setbacks.

If the conditions are met, the planning commission may vote on and grant final approval for the project at its next meeting on May 15.

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