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West Mifflin resident voices concern over building purchase

| Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 2:56 a.m.

A West Mifflin resident is not happy with council's decision that will allow a church to purchase a nearby social hall to use as a worship center.

Council unanimously gave Oasis Ministries Inc. of Hazelwood a conditional use authorization on Tuesday to hold worship services in the former Knights of Columbus Council 4210 hall along Pennsylvania Avenue.

The action is a final step before Oasis can finalize a purchase of the building from the Council 4210 corporation that owns it.

A neighbor didn't like it.

“Every house on that block is going to lower in value,” said Dan Connolly, who lives nearby along Vermont Avenue. He added that if he knew a church was going to move in, he wouldn't have bought the home he has owned since 2006.

Mayor Chris Kelly questioned Connolly's claim that a church would lower property values, rather than if a bar moved in or a social club.

“If you are going to lower the value of all our homes and put in a non-taxing venue, everyone is going to lose,” Connolly came back.

The Knights used the hall for bingo and other social activity under a conditional use permit in an R-2 zoned area.

Council president Michael Moses, vice president John Munsie and councilors John Andzelik, Steve Marone and Michael Olack were present. Councilors Robert Kostelnik and Scott Stephenson were absent.

Forty Two Ten Inc., the Knights council's corporate affiliate, seeks to sell the hall it has owned since 1958.

“The Oasis Ministries has hand money on the deal,” said Forty Two Ten Inc. president Dave Palcsey.

He said council's action paves the way for Oasis to get a bank appraisal and a building inspection.

Oasis is led by Bishop Ray A. Lankford and his wife, Pastor Kim D. Lankford. On their website, the Lankfords said they have outgrown both their original location along Second Avenue in Hazelwood and the Hazelwood YMCA where they've held services.

Oasis was given one condition by borough community development director Walter B. Anthony, to limit occupancy to 299.

Council authorized advertising for bids for sidewalks and a chain link fence for a soccer field to be developed on the Lafarge-Duquesne Slag property along Apdale Street near Buttermilk Hollow Road.

Engineer Dan Jovanovich of Nira Consulting Engineers said the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources approved the project.

Jovanovich reported that there are no problems with the United Rentals stormwater management plan for a lot along Clairton Road and a transportation impact analysis for a new driveway linking Clairton Road with College Drive on the Community College of Allegheny County South Campus.

Council authorized advertising an ordinance for registration of vacant property and regulating abandoned real and personal property.

Council approved a five-year extension of the borough's contract with Baldwin EMS.

“They are everywhere you want them to be,” Moses said.

“It is one of the most progressive moves made by our public safety committee,” Kelly said. “It has been an outstanding upgrade to our public services.”

Council ratified a resolution seeking federal Year 40 Community Development Block Grant funding through Steel Valley Council of Governments and an accompanying resolution designating “several vacant and dilapidated structures” as blighted.

Council condemned four properties, at 600 Kenny St., 109 Avon Road, 3314 Virginia Ave. and 4001 Home St. Anthony said those are the properties for which CDBG funding is being sought for demolition.

The borough hopes to obtain funding for more demolition. Anthony said 15 other properties await the wrecking ball.

Council approved an agreement with Century III Mall's new Moonbeam Capital Investments LLC ownership to hold the borough's Community Day there on Sept. 7.

Parks and recreation director Stephen M. Keron said the borough has been very happy with the new mall owners.

“We've been working hand in hand,” Keron said.

“This year it will be totally green,” Kelly said. “We will be using solar power (and) their backup generator runs on used vegetable oil.”

No parade will take place, but Andzelik said West Mifflin Area High School's marching band and at least three other bands will perform.

Kelly announced the retirement of Sgt. Robert Veinovich, a 20-year West Mifflin police veteran who was assigned to the Drug Enforcement Administration and brought nearly a million dollars in revenue to the borough.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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