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New plan attaches bell tower to Hampton church

| Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

St. Catherine of Sweden Church in Hampton plans to attach a 30-foot bell tower to its building — rather than erect a 43-foot, free-standing bell tower — in order to satisfy township zoning rules.

The Rev. Steven Neff, pastor, told Hampton Council on March 13 about the church's new plan to attach the proposed tower to its house of worship with a triangular trellis of steel tubing.

“It actually creates a beautiful grotto for the Blessed Mother,” Neff said about the revised plan. “It still gives us room to get the bells above the ground, and spaced to ring effectively.”

The parish plans to attach the bell tower to the church with the same type of steel tubing used to fabricate the bell tower.

Last month, Hampton Township Zoning Hearing Board rejected the parish's earlier request for a variance from the township's 20-foot height limit on accessory, stand-alone structures.

The parish sought the variance in order to install a previously proposed tower.

“The original plan had the bell tower as an accessory structure,” said Marty Orban, land use administrator for Hampton Township. “The plans were revised to have the bell tower as an addition to the church.”

The revised plans call for a 5-foot cross to top a 30-foot tower housing three refurbished bells salvaged from churches closed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. Computer–controlled hammers will strike the inside of the three 36-to-20-inch-wide bells.

“Our bells will be stationary, so the mouths face the ground,” Neff said at the March 13 meeting of Hampton Council.

Hampton Council is scheduled to vote March 27 on the revised bell tower plan, which complies with township zoning rules.

“The township asked us to respond with an alternative plan,” said the project's architect, Jim Roos of RSSC Architecture, Pine. “Technically, this is considered an extension to the building.”

The revised plan also will increase the cost of installing the bell tower, according to Roos.

The new blueprints also might delay St. Catherine of Sweden Church's plan to dedicate the proposed bell tower on May 12, Mother's Day.

“They will need to get a building permit,” Orban said.

St. Catherine of Sweden Church plans to purchase the bell tower from the Verdin Company of Cincinnati, which will fabricate and install the structure.

The parish plans to ring the tower's bells for 30 seconds before weekday and weekend Masses, and twice daily for 82 seconds — at noon and 6 p.m. — to announce the Angelus, a Christian commemoration of the Incarnation.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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