Indiana, PA - Indiana County

CANDIDATE: Matthew Gaudet

by RANDY WELLS on October 29, 2013 10:00 AM

Matthew Gaudet was born and raised in Butler County and graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 2009 with a degree in sports administration and a minor in business. While running with coach Ed Fry’s IUP cross country team, Gaudet decided Indiana would be a good place to live and to operate a running-related business.

Today he’s co-owner of The Gingerbread Man Running Company, 714 Philadelphia St., which specializes in running shoes, apparel and accessories.

The business is doing well and growing. But Gaudet has some concerns about what he feels is over-regulation in his adopted hometown.

There’s “too much zoning, too many rules,” too many restrictions on how people can use their properties, said Gaudet, who also owns a student rental property in the borough. If people own their houses and pay the taxes on it, they should have more freedom with what they can do there, to his way of thinking.

As an example, he said three unrelated business professionals wanted to rent a house in the borough and live together, but the borough’s neighborhood preservation ordinance prevented it.

Adopted in 2007, the ordinance was designed to stop any further conversion of family homes to student rental properties in Indiana’s R-1 and R-2 residential zones.

Only single-family homes are allowed in R-1 zones. Duplexes are permitted in R-2 zones.

The ordinance included a definition of “functional family” to help the borough’s code and zoning officers enforce the requirement that tenants moving into new rental properties in the residential zones are, in fact, functional families.

Gaudet also said a property owner in Indiana can’t keep a few chickens in his or her backyard, and they can’t have more than two structures — something in addition to a deck and a shed, for instance — in a backyard.

At 27, Gaudet, if elected, would be one of the youngest members of council. While a more youthful perspective on council would be helpful, he said, there’s more of an issue that too many people have served on council too long, in his opinion.

There have been discussions on reducing the size of council from 12 members, but Gaudet considers a dozen “an OK size.” Twelve members provide adequate and needed checks and balances, he said.

In addition to a need for re-examining the borough’s zoning ordinances, “taxes are pretty high” for businesses in Indiana, Gaudet said, adding it’s a misconception that downtown business owners earn a lot of money. He said one of the things he has learned as a business owner is how to say no to people frequently asking the merchants for money.

He’d like to see Indiana host more events — such as the foot and bicycle races once held on borough streets — to bring more people and more revenue to town.

Gaudet formerly served as a volunteer track coach in the Homer-Center School District.

He ran unsuccessfully for Indiana council as a write-in candidate in 2009.

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