STEUBENVILLE - A volunteer food pantry will be allowed to move from its Sinclair Avenue site to a new home at 534 Lawson Ave. following a conditional use approval by the city's planning and zoning commission Monday night.
Brian Swingle of God's Outreach Food Bank agreed to several conditions proposed by Urban Projects Director Chris Petrossi before the commission approved the conditional-use application, including limiting operations to two days a month and for not more than four hours a day.
"Any signage must be nonilluminating and in compliance with zoning requirements. Site lighting must be directed away from adjoining residences. Any Dumpster or refuse containers are to be concealed from the view of adjoining residences. And the building and site must be in compliance with all current building, health and safety codes prior to occupancy," stated Petrossi.
Swingle said the nonprofit food pantry has been in existence for 15 years.
"We have about 200 families who come to our pantry for support. The need for food assistance has skyrocketed in our poor economy. We are all volunteers. There are no paid jobs in the pantry," said Swingle.
He said the pantry distributes fresh produce and food items supplied through the Mid-Ohio Food Bank and has no plans to prepare or cook food.
"We currently are open one day a month from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. During the summer months we get fresh produce and we are open during the summer every Wednesday for two hours," noted Swingle.
Jane Johnson, director of God's Outreach Food Bank, told the planning commission last month that the move to a new site is necessary "because the Sinclair Avenue building owner is facing foreclosure."
In other business, the commission agreed to contract with HzW Environmental of Mentor for asbestos assessments of buildings facing demolition.
"We have used two other contractors in the past but those assessment reports have been taking up to 90 days and that delays the demolition process. HzW Environmental has said they can provide a report within 30 days, so we would like to try them," explained Petrossi.
"I think it is worth a try. The little higher cost will be worth it if you can speed up the demolition process," said commission member Mike Barber.
The commission agreed to ask that legislation be introduced by City Council for a request for proposals for fair housing services for another three years.
The commission also asked City Council to sunshine legislation to advertise for proposals for electrical engineering consultant services for the park safety and security lighting project.