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Sandwich shop possible at former St. Michael's Parochial School

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By Tim Karan
Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, 4:26 a.m.

Munhall soon may gain a sandwich shop in the former St. Michael's Parochial School thanks to a rezoning of the area of E. Ninth Avenue.

During a meeting on Wednesday that doubled as a second public hearing, council unanimously voted to rezone “multiple, contiguous parcels of land on E. Ninth Avenue and Boone Way” from residential to business, effective immediately.

Solicitor Greg Evashavik said the rezoning applies to approximately 40 parcels between Andrew Street and McClure Street, although Walter Viola, the developer who purchased the school, asked only for the rezoning of his lot.

“We had a concern if we granted the applicant's original request just to change St. Michael's School from residential to commercial, that may be spot zoning,” Evashavik said.

“Upon review by the planning commission and consideration by council, it was determined that just changing that single lot was not in the best interest of the comprehensive zoning plan of the borough,” he said.

The plan then was amended to change portions of the entire multi-block section to B-2 status and it was submitted to Allegheny County's planning department.

Although a written response sent by the department after a public hearing last week recommended against the larger plan and suggested Viola request a use variance, Evashavik said council isn't bound by the department's ruling.

Interim borough manager Tim Little said letters about the possible change were mailed to about 50 property owners in the rezoned area and Evashavik explained at the previous public hearing that the change will not specifically affect any residential structures on the block unless the owner wants to utilize the B-2 designation.

Evashavik stressed that borough taxes would not be directly affected.

Viola, who requested the rezoning in August, had hoped to open the sandwich shop earlier this month. He owns the former St. Michael's Church rectory and convent along with many houses on E. Ninth and Eighth avenues that he plans to convert into luxury apartments as part of a larger gentrification plan.

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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