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Plum zoning board approves variances for new building

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

A doctor wants to move his office to a medical building he is proposing to build in the Unity section of Plum.

The Plum Borough Zoning Hearing Board last week approved three variances for a proposed medical/retail building on Unity Center Road near the intersection with Old Leechburg Road.

Dr. Amer Z. Akhrass operates his practice, Prime Care Internal Medicine Associates, near the intersection of Unity Center Road and Saltsburg Road. But Akhrass wants to construct a two-story building near St. John the Baptist Catholic School with retail space on the first floor and his office on half of the second floor.

Akhrass, of Murrysville, said he rents space and has been looking to relocate about a mile away to a new building on property that he owns.

Akhrass purchased the property at 314 Unity Center Road, including a 114-year-old house, in 2011 for $120,000 from a trust, according to the Allegheny County Assessment website. The house is set to be demolished.

Joseph Khalil, an engineer with Hampton Technical Associates in Etna who presented the plan to the zoning hearing board, said a variance for building height was needed because a screen intended to cover items on the roof exceeds the borough's ordinance by five feet.

“The equipment on the roof is ugly to see from the road,” Khalil said.

Khalil also requested variances related to landscaping in the right-of-way and to the amount of the site that will be covered with concrete, such as the parking lot and sidewalks.

The building would have 68 parking spaces.

“I would like to see more pervious area for storm-water control,” board member Alan Vento told Khalil.

Khalil said the development's storm-water management plan that includes a rain garden is designed to control rainfall from a “100-year” or intense storm.

Zoning hearing board solicitor Warner Mariani said anyone who objects to the variances has 30 days to appeal the decisions to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

Khalil anticipates seeking the Plum Borough Planning Commission's site plan approval for the building at a 6:30 p.m. meeting on May 19 in council chambers at the borough building, 4575 New Texas Road.

If the commission recommends approval at the May meeting, council could consider the plan on June 9.

Khalil said if Akhrass in the next couple of months gets approvals and permits, construction could begin in a few months and take about three months to complete.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753, or

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