City Seeks Public Input On Creation Of Special Riverfront Zoning District

Dec 23, 2015

Once sites for heavy industry, Pittsburgh's riverfronts are increasingly becoming places to live, work, shop and play.
Credit Paul Chamberlain / Flickr

Pittsburgh's Department of City Planning has proposed the use of a zoning tool called an Interim Planning Overlay District, or IPOD, to harness greater public participation in determining the future use of its riverfronts.

Shores wrapping from Hazelwood to the Strip District, across the North Shore and along the South Side have transformed in recent years from industrial hubs to places to live, work, shop and play.

Assistant Director of City Planning Andrew Dash said the temporary IPOD designation would put additional regulations on riverfront areas, many of which are zoned as “urban industrial” or “general industrial.”

“We’re looking to work with community advocates, with residents (and) with developers to try to figure out how we can create a permanent zoning district along our riverfronts to accommodate the development that I think we all want to see,” he said.

City leaders want to enhance transportation infrastructure, extend trails and public space, mitigate problems caused by combined sewer overflows and encourage sustainability in new developments, Dash said. Public input is a key part of that process, he said.

Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Deb Gross, whose district includes a large swath of land along the Allegheny River from the Strip District to Highland Park, is chair of the Land Use and Economic Development Committee. She said declaring the area an IPOD is an important step in building connections between the riverfronts and adjacent neighborhoods.

“Think about where housing is in Lawrenceville and then there’s just kind of a gap and there was heavy industry along the riverfront. In a lot of places in the city we’re looking to reconnect to the river’s edge,” Gross said. “This is a good way of figuring out how we can reconnect, because we know that that’s the kind of Pittsburgh that everybody wants to live in … (and) often we get to a better solution when we involve all of the neighborhood.”

An IPOD is currently in place in Uptown, where officials are planning for what they’re calling an eco-innovation district.

Public meetings on the proposed Riverfront IPOD are scheduled for Monday, Jan. 11  at 6 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Public Market and Wednesday, Jan. 13 at 6 p.m. at the South Side Market House.