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Plan for Heidelberg daycare center moves forward

| Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

A daycare center owner intends to move forward with plans to buy the former Heidelberg Elementary School and move her operation there.

Susan English, who owns Wee Care Children's Center in Scott, submitted a conditional use application last week, after Heidelberg Council followed the planning commission's recommendation to approve an ordinance that would allow daycare centers in residential districts.

English said she hopes to purchase the property on Ellsworth Avenue as soon as the application is approved.

“I'm taking it one step at a time and not getting ahead of myself,” she said.

The zoning hearing board will consider the conditional use application Aug. 11, and council will vote on the application Aug. 19.

The ordinance passed July 29 proved divisive with some Ellsworth Avenue residents opposing the center because of safety and traffic concerns. Richard Losego, who lives across from the former school, is suing Wee Care and the borough over the proposed center.

“This is classic spot zoning,” said Templeton Smith, Losego's attorney. “This will create an island of commercial use in a residential district.”

He said the ordinance appears specifically tailored to English's proposed use.

“This is a bad ordinance that is not for the benefit of the whole borough,” he said.

Borough officials, however, have said the ordinance simply revives a similar one that was on the books until the borough overhauled its zoning code last year. At that time, the ordinance allowing such commercial uses in residential districts was left out.

Dwight Ferguson, the attorney representing Wee Care, made the same point.

“It's simply restoring this aspect to the zoning ordinance,” he said.

The two attorneys were the only members of the public to speak prior to council's unanimous approval of the ordinance.

Built in the late 1950s, the building housed Heidelberg Elementary School until 1996. It was used for commercial purposes until it was bought for $550,000 by Three Hierarchs Eastern Orthodox School, which occupied the building from 2007 until it closed last year.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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