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North Huntingdon allows temporary permit for barn

| Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

North Huntingdon commissioners ended months of haggling with the owner of a barn by voting to allow him to reopen the venue for weddings and banquets if it meets certain conditions.

Commissioners voted unanimously last Wednesday to grant Steve Guffey a temporary occupancy permit that will be in effect through September for his Five Pines Barn, which is located along Five Pines Road.

Township officials said Guffey has either met, or has agreed to meet, all of the requirements to use the 4,647 square-foot building for public events.

“It looks like all of our issues, other than this one with the (storm water detention) pond, will be resolved,” township manager John Shepherd said. “It doesn't look like we have any conflicts that can't be fixed.”

Guffey said he was “very appreciative to the North Huntingdon Township commissioners for allowing me to proceed with this venue.”

Guffey said the facility, which is not used during the winter, is “95-percent booked for this season.”

“I think it's a great venue and we are very excited for the opportunity to begin hosting events there,” he said.

The interaction between Guffey and township officials has been rocky at times.

A site plan for the facility was denied in October because if failed to meet township requirements for public buildings.

In December, officials ordered Guffey to stop using the barn for events because it had not been inspected or approved for “public assembly.”

The commissioners also denied a site plan Guffey submitted that month for the facility because it did not meet some township's requirements which included exterior lighting, parking and storm water management.

In recent weeks, much of the discussion about what Guffey needed to do to open the barn for business has focused on how storm water runoff from the property will be handled.

Township planning Director Andrew Blenko said at a meeting April 10 he was “very concerned” about the proposed storm-water detention pond because it deviates from the municipality's storm-water management standards.

“If the embankment and the pond come down, it will come down toward Five Pine Road,” he said. “It could potentially end up on the road or in the stream. I'm not comfortable with this.”

Guffey's lawyer, Gary A. Falatovich, told commissioners that while “it is doubtful this pond will fail,” the municipality would not be liable for any problems that might arise.

Falatovich added that his client “has no incentive to build a facility that isn't going to work” because the township would revoke the facility's occupancy permit should problems arise.

Robert Deglau of Greensburg, who developed the site plans, said the detention pond, which will be about 100-feet long, 25- to 30-feet wide and 8½-feet deep is “over designed, larger than is needed.”

Despite the assurances provided by Falatovich and Deglau, the commissioners approved the site plan on the condition that the detention pond is constructed under the supervision of a certified geotechnical engineer who will have to inspect and certify that the system was built properly.

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or at tlarussa@tribweb.com

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