A variance request from Lycoming College to build institutional parking in a residential zoning district was denied Thursday by the city Zoning Hearing Board because it did not meet the five criteria for approval.
Those criteria are:
The request would have an unnecessary hardship otherwise because of unique physical conditions
There would be no possibility the property could be developed according to the code
That the hardship was not created by the person applying for the variance
That it will not alter the essential neighborhood character
That, if authorized, it will have the least modification of the regulation possible.
Residents and college officials both spoke about whether the variance should be approved, including Susan S. Gaylor, vice president for administration and planning at the college.
The college owns 81 Union Ave., 91 Union Ave. and 97 Union Ave., which it wants to demolish to add 70 parking spots near the Robert Shangraw Athletic Complex, Gaylor said.
"Advanced parking will improve the neighborhood significantly," she said.
Now, there are about 50 parking spots near the stadium. Had the variance passed, it would have increased the parking to about 120 spots.
The additional parking was sought so that athletes did not have to park on the street, taking parking places away from residents.
Robert Shangraw, for whom the complex is named, donated money so the parking lot could be built. He attended the meeting and told the board that people knew that as sports were added, additional parking would be necessary.
Resident Thomas Forquer wanted to know what would happen to his house and his neighbors' houses if the variance passed.
Since it did not pass, what will happen is uncertain, said Jerry Rashid, director of college relations.
"The big thing is we just found out," Rashid said. "We're looking at options."
Voting against the variance were Thomas Shivetts, Mary Lou Baldys, Mary Zeitler, Judy Sarett and Linda Crockett.
Gary Knarr, zoning official, said the college could appeal to a higher court.
Since Lycoming College owns the properties, officials still can request a permit to demolish them.