Lower Burrell Zoning Board backs tire shop
Despite a change in Lower Burrell's zoning ordinance earlier this year, the legal battle over a tire shop on Leechburg Road continues.
The city's zoning hearing board on Monday unanimously granted Sam Jenniches Jr. permission to reopen T.N.A. Tire over the objections of nearby business owner Jamie Morabito and his attorney, Rachel Riedel.
The tire shop will be located at 3162 Leechburg Road, across from Burrell Plaza.
Jenniches was forced to relocate his tire business to New Kensington last year after a Westmoreland County Court judge ruled the city's zoning hearing board had improperly granted a variance allowing the business to operate in a C-2 commercial zone. Auto repair businesses then were limited to C-1 and C-3 commercial zones as well as manufacturing zones.
Morabito, owner of Morabito Motors located two doors down from T.N.A., in 2010 challenged the variance that was granted to T.N.A. property owner Larry Newman and his then-tenant, Donald W. Mellon, who has since died. Jenniches took over the tire business from Mellon; Newman still owns the property.
Morabito argued Newman and Mellon did not demonstrate a hardship that prevented them from opening a business that would be a permitted use in the C-2 zone. Newman had testified at a 2010 zoning hearing that the building had been used for other purposes in the past and was in use as a wrestling gym at the time.
Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. agreed with Morabito's assessment and in June 2012 ruled the zoning hearing board was wrong when it issued the variance.
Based on McCormick's ruling, city Solicitor Stephen Yakopec last October asked the court to force Jenniches to close his shop.
However, city council last month changed the zoning ordinance to now permit auto-repair shops in C-2 zones by special exception.
Mayor Don Kinosz at the time said the change helped modernize the ordinance and make it consistent with businesses operating in the city.
Morabito earlier this month challenged the change in Westmoreland County Court, claiming council and the planning commission did not properly advertise its intent to change the ordinance.
The city has not formally responded to the lawsuit and no decision has been made.
Meanwhile, Jenniches applied for a special exception under the amended ordinance to reopen the shop.
Jenniches on Monday told the zoning hearing board he would like to operate the business in both New Kensington and Lower Burrell. In addition to selling tires, he plans to offer vehicle inspections and minor auto repair and detailing work.
“We were doing quite a nice little business,” Jenniches said. “We serviced a lot of people in the town, plus we bring them in from out of town.”
Jenniches said he didn't object to stipulations of the planning commission and zoning hearing board that he spruce up the property and fence in a small area behind the building for temporary storage of used tires. Jenniches said he would not be storing junk cars on the lot.
Zoning Hearing Board Chairman George Guido attempted to read the recommendations of the planning commission and Zoning Officer Mike Nedley. But Riedel objected to the inclusion of that information in the meeting minutes because she did not have the opportunity to cross-examine Nedley or Planning Commission Chairman Ray Rieser.
Riedel said she felt the zoning board shouldn't grant Jenniches' request because he did not provide proof that the business would have the required number of parking spaces and meet setback requirements. Jenniches said the business met the standards but couldn't supply verification Monday night.
Riedel also questioned whether the T.N.A. property bordered residences. Jenniches said a rental house is behind a catering business next door, but it is on a commercially zoned lot.
David Phillips, owner of the neighboring Creative Catering and the rental house, said he welcomes the return of T.N.A.'s business.
He said it is Morabito's business, which uses a parking lot behind T.N.A. that is accessed by an alley between T.N.A. and Phillips' property, that causes him concern in the way of traffic.
“The more businesses down here, the more choices we have, the better,” Phillips said.
“I don't have a problem with him being there,” Morabito told the zoning board. “The rules are not being followed.”
Morabito and Riedel left immediately after the board's ruling; it was not clear if they plan to appeal the decision before a county judge.
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Eagle egg breaks, parents abandon nest
- Plum police search for home invasion suspect
- 2 New Kensington-Arnold candidates removed from primary ballot
- Man in New Kensington standoff charged
- Freshman arrested in Burrell High School bomb threat
- OSHA fines East Deer company $70,000 in aftermath of worker’s electrocution
- Bomb threat clears Apollo-Ridge High School
- Vandergrift Sons of America gives back to the community
- Leechburg hosts vigil to halt drugs, violence in the community
- Audubon Society to form advisory panel for Buffalo Township nature center
- Hays eagle egg watch continues