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Allegheny Township nixes bed and breakfast

| Thursday, March 7, 2013, 12:26 a.m.

Allegheny Township's Zoning Hearing Board on Wednesday ruled a bed and breakfast cannot operate on a Markle Road farm.

During a lengthy zoning hearing in January, representatives of Ladave Farms 1876 Bed and Breakfast said paying guests have stayed at the farm for decades, possibly dating back to the late 1800s.

Since that use predates the township's zoning ordinances, they argued the bed and breakfast should be grandfathered as a nonconforming, pre-existing use.

The board disagreed.

Board Solicitor Larry Loperfito said Ladave needs to apply for a conditional use permit from township supervisors in order to continue operating the bed and breakfast in the residential-agricultural zone.

Loperfito said the board's decision can be appealed to Westmoreland County Court.

No one representing the farm was present for Wednesday's decision.

Reached by phone afterward, farm representative Larry Musselman said he would leave it up to his attorney, Robert Liotta, to decide whether to continue to fight for the right to put up paying guests.

The bed and breakfast has been closed since December, when the B&B's operators appealed a notice issued last June of alleged violation of township zoning laws.

According to testimony presented in January, a portion of a farmhouse and a barn loft were set aside for paying guests and others who work on the farm in return for a place to stay.

The farm produces hay and other crops. It is also used as a horse rescue.

Farm representatives testified at the January hearing that although it wasn't until recently that the operation was called a bed and breakfast, it has operated as such for many years.

Attorneys in January questioned the credibility of witnesses and township officials on both sides of the case. The township was represented by attorney Gary Falatovich, who also was not present for Wednesday's decision.

The zoning hearing board ruled on two other issues Wednesday relating to Ladave.

The board ruled the notice of violation sent by the township to Ladave in June was defective. There was some dispute over the notice's accuracy because a signature and date were written in different inks.

However, the Zoning Hearing Board also ruled Ladave did not have the right to file a late appeal. Loperfito said Ladave should have filed an appeal within 30 days of the notice.

Those issues were essentially a moot point, because the board ultimately ruled against Ladave's bed and breakfast.

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or lhayes@tribweb.com.

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