Thursday, July 04, 2013

Ligonier YMCA expansion plan leads to concern over property rights

The plan shown below is the original development plan for what is now Ligonier Borough in Pennsylvania.  Ramsey owned the land and he designed the plan.  Following the design of this plan we have many wonderful little alleys that help maintain the charming residential village atmosphere.

One little alley is at risk because the YMCA, considered a good cause by many, wants to expand.  The YMCA purchased two residences across the alley from its current location and they have plans to raze the structures and create a parking lot and daycare drop off in this space, including the location of the alley easement.

If you read the language on the plan you will see that Ramsey granted that the easement for the alleys be forever open.  How could the YMCA take the rights of the public and destroy Ramsey's easement?

There is also the question of zoning.  The two residences set for demolition sit in a residential zone in which no parking lots are permitted.  This is not an old ordinance. Ligonier Borough updated its zoning ordinance in 2010. Now under public pressure and against the wishes of some neighbors living next to or near the proposed parking lot, officials are considering amending the ordinance to accommodate the YMCA.

I am hopeful that local officials will respect the easement and rights of property owners in the residential zone.

Though I understand the enthusiasm of the YMCA and its members, I am distressed that there is such a disregard for the rights of Ramsey to create his easement and the public and landowners in the plan to enjoy it.  I am also distressed by the lack of empathy for property owners in the residential zone who did not bargain to risk the use and enjoyment of their homes by commercial encroachment and the noise and congestion of a busy parking lot.

I am not arguing against the YMCA and its desire to expand. I am arguing that they have selected the wrong way to expand.  The YMCA is situate in a village and the inhabitants of the village have rights and the village was designed with purpose.

Carving up and destroying a portion of the village is the unintended consequence of the planned expansion.  Ligonier Borough is a small residential village deserving of protection.  Let the YMCA find a way to expand within the law and within the design and structure of the village.

If you think I have based my argument on misinformation, please enlighten me.   Thank you.

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