WARREN, Pa. – The Warren County Commissioners approved a rezoning request for the former Allegheny Valley Elementary School in Clarendon on Wednesday.
The former school sits on a 15.2-acre property that is owned by the Clarendon Borough. Clarendon Borough Mayor Tom Eaton said during a public hearing held before the commissioners meeting that a portion of the building, which is leased to the Allegheny Valley Veterans Center, has the intention of being used for a 32-apartment VA-licensed transitional housing facility.
“It would be a 32-bed shelter for veterans,” Eaton said. “Hopefully with the good graces of everybody, we’re going to get started. There are going to be a lot of requirements, but this is going to be a VA-approved transitional facility. What we will be is a hand up, and give veterans time to rehabilitate.”
Commissioner Tricia Durbin asked if the building would need to be rezoned even without the VA Center.
“In short, yet,” said Zoning Officer Michael Lyon. “If it stays R1, the use for a building that size is very limited.”
Clarendon resident Beth Christensen spoke during public comment and raised a few concerns.
“Mostly, I’m a little uncomfortable with the homeless shelter for the vets,” Christensen said. “My concern is they are drug users, alcoholics. How will they interact with our community? We are getting more and more children in the community. To what level is that going to be controlled?”
During the commissioners meeting, Kafferlin said: “I’m agnostic on the specific use of the property. I’m glad Mr. Eaton was able to come to tell us about the initiative. We had a good discussion. I’m only focused on the appropriateness of business transitional. I am in favor of transitioning it to business transitional.”
Added Durbin: “I echo your position as to how it gets used. We’ll make sure any of the deed restrictions still have to be upheld. I am in support of it as well.”
Commissioner Jeff Eggleston raised concerns about the specific use for the building but agreed with his fellow commissioners that it should be rezoned.
“My issue is with the property itself,” Eggleston said. “I have concerns over the business plan. Any type of facility would have to be licensed. There would be many legal channels for local residents to handle anything in my opinion that would be outside of the realm of reasonable for the community.
“The school will deteriorate if it doesn’t transition. That makes the necessity for the change supersedes some of the other concerns.”