USC day care amendment fails

Published May 7, 2013 at 9:01 am (Updated May 7, 2013 at 9:01 am)

A request for an amendment to Upper St. Clair Township’s zoning laws regarding day care centers was denied May 6 due to a lack of a second to the motion, therefore the amendment never came up for a vote.

Commissioner Donald Rectenwald Jr. made a motion to adopt the amendment, but no commissioner seconded the motion, so the request died.

The request was made by the owner of a property on North Highland Road near Abbeyville Road who wanted to be able to develop the property as a Goddard School, which is a day care center that also offers all-day kindergarten.

Scott Brilhart, director of community development for the township, said the zoning amendment would have changed the definition of a day care center, permit day care centers as a conditional use in R-3 Medium Density Residential Districts and establish one acre as the minimum lot size for day care centers.

He said the property at 1630 North Highland Road is a little less than an acre, and so does not meet the minimum lot size proposed. He said the developer would have to seek a variance from the Zoning Hearing Board even if the amendment they requested would have been adopted.

Brilhart said both the Planning Commission and the township’s planning staff recommended that the amendment be denied.

“We have concerns about how (the school) would fit on that lot,” he said. “You’d be grading right up to the property line.”

“North Highland serves as this buffer between the residential and commercial development on the street,” Brilhart said, with residential on the west side and commercial to the east. The Goddard School was proposed to be on the residential side of the street, with single family residential homes abutting the property.

The Goddard School in Peters Township sits on a 6.5 acre parcel in an R-1 Residential District.

Residents spoke both in favor of and against the amendment that would pave the way for the Goddard School near Route 19 in Upper St. Clair.

Karen Moellenberg, of Corteland Drive, said the school would be a good addition for the township and the location is appropriate.

The school would be next to another day care center that is located mainly in Mt. Lebanon. “This will be a profitable change for Upper St. Clair,” Moellenberg said.

Another resident said the township needed an option for residents who did not want a religiously affiliated day care for their children, repeating the same point made earlier by the owner of the property in question – Alexander Bunson. “Not everyone wants their kids raised in a religious setting,” he said.

But other residents expressed concern about the added traffic and the small size of the lot, compared to the five-acre minimum that is in place for schools in the township.

Andrew James, of Patton Drive, said the traffic was already horrible. “I would not want like to wake up in the morning and look outside to a bunch of screaming kids,” he said.

In other business, Upper St. Clair Commissioners will continue a public hearing on June 3 for a proposed 220-unit apartment complex on Boyce Plaza Road off of Boyce Road.

At the initial public hearing on May 6, Kim Gales of J.R. Gales and Associates said the proposal is for four buildings with 30 units each, and five buildings with 20 units each. The development is also proposed to have a clubhouse near the entrance to the complex, as well as trails, benches and a park area near Chartiers Creek, which abuts the property.

Brilhart said the developer is requesting to be allowed to construct 1.6 parking spaces per unit, instead of the two spaces per unit required under township ordinance, in order to maintain additional greenspace on the property.

Gales said that one parking space for each apartment will be in enclosed garages, with a second space in surface paved areas. A total of two spaces per apartment are shown on the plan, but some of them are indicated as “future parking” and would only be constructed if demand became apparent. Otherwise, it is planned to be left as greenspace.

About 60 percent of the apartments are planned to have two bedrooms, with the remaining 40 percent having only one bedroom. They are expected to be rented for between $1,200 and $1,800.

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