Upper St. Clair Commissioners approve zoning amendment for 1800 Washington Road project

Published Apr 8, 2014 at 8:34 am (Updated Apr 8, 2014 at 8:34 am)

A mixed residential and commercial development proposed for the former Consol Energy site at 1800 Washington Road in Upper St. Clair moved a step closer when the township’s commissioners voted unanimously to adopt an amendment to the zoning ordinance during a meeting April 7.

Following a public hearing, the amendment to the zoning map essentially rezones the area from a special business district to a special business-mixed use district.

Plans call for the site across Washington Road from South Hills Village to be developed with office space, restaurants, a Whole Foods grocery store and single and multi-family housing. When completed, the development will generate an additional $1.4 million in township and school tax revenue.

However, not everyone is happy with the project, including two residents who have voiced their opposition since the project was proposed three years ago. One of those who has taken the issue to court is Moira Cain-Mannix of 1913 Highgate Road. She did not speak during the public hearing April 7, however, her attorney, Tom Ayoob, did. He challenged the validity of the amendment, calling the effort “spot zoning,” which is not permitted under law. Before the vote, Ayoob asked the commissioners to simply “follow the law” when it came to spot zoning.

During the public hearing, Michael Parrish, who said he attended on behalf of the developers, 1800 Washington Road Associates, said Cain-Mannix lives more than a mile away from the site and her appeals to previous township actions have been dismissed by the courts. And, Parrish reminded the commissioners, Cain-Mannix did not oppose the expansion of nearby South Hills Village when Dick’s Sporting Goods and Target remodeled and located on the western end of the shopping mall.

Another resident, who lives on Bartley Road, is also opposed to the development. Her attorney told the commissioners she is elderly and relies on a breathing device. She did not attend the public hearing, but will testify to her objections.

Without discussion by the commissioners, the amendment was passed unanimously.

At the conclusion of another public hearing, also at the April 7 meeting, commissioners voted unanimously to approve a conditional use recommended to convert the former Upper St. Clair Woman’s Club building at 2541 Edgewood Drive, to a single-family home.

The building was constructed in 1967 as the woman’s club, later converted to a semi-public purpose until sitting vacant for several years. Aaron and Olga Leimkehler purchased the property and building in August of 2013.

According to the conditional use, the couple must remove the large asphalt parking lot at the rear of the structure within one year, and build a garage within two years. Aaron Leimkehler said the parking lot should be removed this summer with the two-car garage constructed within the required time. The couple said extensive interior renovations will be required.

In other action, April 7, commissioners:

• Issued a proclamation honoring 34-years of service to Marvin Haddox, who served on the planning commission from November of 1980 until December, 2013. During his tenure on the planning commission, Haddox served as chairman, vice chairman and secretary, and helped to oversee numerous new developments and comprehensive plans.

• Accepted public improvements in the Reese plan of lots.

• Amended the township’s code to include new stop signs.

• Authorized the township to enter into a five-year agility agreement with the state Department of Transportation to share services, such as mowing and installing guiderails.

• Authorized the township to participate in the Sustainable Community Essentials Certification Program.

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