Zoning hearing board to rule on consolidation of church properties
By Bobby Cherry
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 9:01 p.m.
A decision by Sewickley zoning board members on whether leaders at The Presbyterian Church, Sewickley, would need to consolidate property owned at Beaver and Grant streets could come as early as next month.
Borough code enforcement officer Nancy Watts reiterated her August decision at a zoning board meeting last week.
Watts said church leaders would need to consolidate three of its four lots, and that the so-called “pink house” at 202 Beaver St. would be an accessory use to the church.
A fourth lot — a single-family home — now is listed for sale.
“The youth center, whether it's in a new structure or whether it's in 202 Beaver St., is indeed governed by the council of the church,” she said.
All events in the building “will be decided by the authority of the body of the church,” Watts said.
“As a result, it is indeed subordinate to that principal use. It is not a stand-alone entity. It doesn't have its own administration.
“Current programs that are in the church as we speak would be moved into the new facility.”
Church lawyer Michael Parrish asked Watts what other properties in the borough comply with guidelines.
“The (Sewickley Car Store),” Watts said. “They have multiple buildings … some do car repairs (and) some do detailing. But the principal use of the lot is car sales.
“Lots of principal uses can be accessory uses. The borough insisted they consolidate the lots.”
Church spokesman Tom Graham and Parrish said a multitude of community organizations use the church to hold meetings and other events that do not typically fall under the church's jurisdiction.
Church leaders initially announced plans to raze the house to make way for a structure that would offer additional gathering and meeting space, parking and green space.
Those plans changed when organizers of grassroots Save the Pink House group pleaded with church leaders to keep the late 1800s-built home standing.
In June, Save the Pink House members agreed to raise up to $200,000 of the estimated $1.6 million needed to redo the house, organizer Peter Floyd said.
Zoning members plan to meet at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Sewickley Borough building.
Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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