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Approval of Upper St. Clair redevelopment challenged

| Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A neighbor of the former Consol Energy headquarters in Upper St. Clair is again challenging the redevelopment of the site, claiming that the township violated its own rules to allow the mix of offices, retail and houses being considered.

Moira Cain-Mannix, a resident of the Springfields development south of the former Consol property at Route 19 and Fort Couch Road, wants the township's zoning hearing board to overturn the commissioners' decision to allow mixed-use development on the 28-acre plot, which has a “special business” zoning.

Cain-Mannix referred questions to her attorney, Tom Ayoob, who did not respond to requests for comment.

In October 2011, a 4-2-1 vote by the commissioners made mixed-use development a possibility within special business zones under a set of specific conditions pertaining to lot size, setbacks and planning — conditions Cain-Mannix's challenge said could only be met by one property: the former Consol site.

Therefore, she argued, the township's decision constituted “spot zoning”: a zoning change that benefits a single property or owner, which is a process the courts often consider illegal.

Owners Hal Kestler and Jerry Cipriani plan to redevelop the site as Siena at St. Clair, with a two-story shopping and office center along the hillside where Consol's office building once stood, a Whole Foods grocery store with underground parking along Route 19, and a mix of townhouses and patio homes off Fort Couch Road at the rear of the property.

Cain-Mannix and another neighbor, Jarrod Shaw, filed a similar challenge in late 2011, claiming that the township effectively changed the property's zoning without following proper procedures. The zoning hearing board said it lacked jurisdiction and a Common Pleas Court judge dismissed the case in July.

The zoning hearing board has scheduled a public hearing for 8 p.m. April 24 in the Community and Recreation Center off Mayview Road, rather than the commissioners' chambers. Previous meetings on the project drew so much attention from neighbors concerned about traffic, crime and big-box development that the crowds were too large for the commissioners' chambers.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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