STATE COLLEGE BOROUGH COUNCIL
Term: Four years
Question: Zoning regulations vary between municipalities. Do you believe there should be changes to the zoning regulations in State College? If so, what changes would you recommend?
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Richard L. “Rick” Garis, State College
Date of birth: Nov. 25, 1948
Education: Penns Valley High School; Allentown City Police Academy; Pa. State Police Academy — alcohol testing and enforcement; police supervisor training — several courses at Penn State; community-oriented policing courses; crisis management and critical incident courses.
Occupation: Retired State College police officer (supervisor). Retired landscape ontractor.
Qualifications: 42-year borough resident; 28-year member State College Police Department; liaison to the State College Borough Traffic Commission; liaison to the College Heights Neighborhood Association.
Answer to question: Our current zoning laws seem to be what is needed to keep our town a safe and a desirable place to live. Sometimes a need arises to change present laws and enact new ones. Borough Council has been working with residents and the Planning Commission to deal with student rental homes. The problem is enforcement and is the driving force behind the upcoming hearings on changes to the rental regulations. I think that we must hire an enforcement person and make that their only job. Part-time tracking and enforcement just doesn’t work as we have found out in the past.
Thomas Daubert, State College
Education: Penn State, B.S. 1959, M.S. 1961, Ph.D. 1964
Occupation: Professor emeritus of chemical engineering, Penn State
Qualifications: State College Borough Council, current and long-term member/past president; former Council of Governments chair/current active member; State College Community Land Trust Board; former board member of Pennsylvania Municipal League; State College South past president.
Answer to question: Over the past 20 years, we have made many changes for the better in the zoning areas for State College. I believe that the current zoning map is now totally appropriate and that zoning changes in any areas of the borough are unnecessary in the next several years. However, review of the ordinances for ease of use and total consistency is planned and necessary. Recodification for more rapid and accurate interpretation is a necessary project that council has approved to start in 2014. I am in agreement.
Theresa Lafer, State College
Education: 1970, Simmons College, B.A.; 1974, SUNY-Binghamton, M.A.; Penn State, M.Ed
Occupation: Educational Support Services, Penn State
Qualifications: Borough Council; Council of Governments, Transportation and Land Use Committee; Regional MPO; NLC committees including IT, Transportation, Economic Development, and Women in Municipal Government. Member of the Citizens’ Advisory Committee for block grant allocation. Land Trust Board.
Answer to question: Zoning is a highly complex issue, which involves residents, borough staff and the Planning Commission, and the regional planning organization. It reflects the needs, both stable and changing, of the borough. I consider this to be one tool among many to help address the goals of preserving and strengthening our neighborhoods. Zoning must be examined as part of the larger whole. In and of itself, it is not a panacea for community problems; but it may be useful in both planning for change and providing stability.
Evan Myers, State College
Date of birth: Jan. 18, 1950
Education: 1971, Penn State
Occupation: Chief operating officer at AccuWeather, focused on budgets, operations and people.
Qualifications: Consolidation Study Commission, Downtown Strategic Plan Committee, and for last six years, Planning Commission, the last five as chair. State College has been my home for 43 years. My wife, Lynn, and I have raised three children here.
Answer to question: As a member of the former Consolidation Study Commission and currently as chair of the State College Planning Commission, it is clear that regional cooperation on zoning is needed. That said, State College represents an important center of the entire community. As such, its concerns and issues need consideration, and that includes consideration by Penn State. Zoning situations like student homes need strong inspection and weekend rentals need clear new regulation. Focus on zoning to maintain a vibrant downtown and preserve neighborhoods is a must, a look at revising current regulations in those places to achieve that is important.