Latrobe. As a kid growing up in Western PA, it has always meant Steelers’ preseason football camp. In my 20s, “33” and Rolling Rock’s green pony bottles – “from the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe” – stole the limelight. Although the Steelers are still in Latrobe, Anheuser-Busch moved production of the classic pale ale in green bottles to New Jersey years ago. But it seems as if “green” might again be the second color of Latrobe.
Last month, the Latrobe City Council approved an amendment to the Latrobe Zoning Ordinance that establishes criteria for electric vehicle charging stations (EVCS). As an accessory use, EVCS are permitted “and encouraged” in all zoning districts. Rapid charging stations, however, were looked at as being similar to gas stations and are permitted only in commercial and industrial zoning districts. A rapid charging station is an EVCS with voltage greater than 240. In addition to locational differences, rapid charging EVCS will need to comply with the same zoning requirements as gas stations.
(As an aside, Latrobe might not just be green solely due to EVCS because the amendment also permits medical marijuana organizations by special exception in a commercial zoning district.)
Latrobe is ahead of the game when it comes to EVCS. Eventually, most municipalities will face the question of whether and how to regulate EVCS. With a Tesla dealership now located in my part of Southcentral PA, we can expect a continued increase in charging stations of all sizes to continue popping up. To what uses are EVCS customarily incidental such that one EVCS is accessory while another is not? Should limited, accessory EVCS be regulated differently than rapid charging EVCS? Should larger rapid charging EVCS be treated as a gas station or something different because there is no gasoline and gas tankers?
I certainly do not have a blanket answer to those questions. If you have ever heard me speak at PSATS or a similar conference, you know that I do not think that “one size fits all” works for zoning. Rather, this is another great opportunity for developers and entrepreneurs to collaborate with municipalities to create regulations that make sense for the municipality and the use. Perhaps those conversations might even start over a Rolling Rock.
If you have any questions regarding regulating EVCS or whether a certain municipality is regulating EVCS, please feel free to contact any member of the McNees Wallace & Nurick Land Use Group.