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Country Inn zoning fight continues in Sewickley

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

As demolition of the nearly 50-year-old former Sewickley Country Inn continues, one resident continues to fight against rezoning for new development.

Mike Lyons in 2010 filed a lawsuit against the borough and the zoning board. He said rezoning the land from residential to multi-use was spot zoning.

Lyons, an attorney and former councilman, won the right in Commonwealth Court to offer more testimony to Sewickley Zoning Hearing Board last week.

He called the rezoning a “knee-jerk reaction.”

Borough officials are eager to see development on the site of the rundown building, a landmark in the borough.

“It's an eyesore and it's a safety concern,” Mayor Brian Jeffe said.

The inn, with its signature sign along Route 65, for years was a popular gathering spot. It closed in 2009.

The property at Route 65 and Boundary Street is surrounded by homes.

Borough officials say Lyons' lawsuit has cost taxpayers more than $50,000 in legal fees.

MCM Ventures, led by developer Cody Mueller, has proposed redeveloping the property into office space and single-family homes.

Lyons argued the trial court “erred in exercising jurisdiction” over MCM's appeal from the zoning hearing board's denial of the development company's motion to declare Lyons' claim invalid, according to court documents.

Mueller could not be reached for comment.

In their decision last year, Commonwealth Court judges also concluded the borough's public notices failed to comply with state law by being placed within a four-day span instead of a five-day window, which would constitute two consecutive weeks, according to court documents.

Crews began preparations to tear down the facility last month, borough Manager Kevin Flannery said.

Trespassers had gained access to motel rooms and other parts of the property since the inn closed, according to police reports.

Zoning board members are expected to continue the hearing at a March 5 meeting.

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 orrcherry@tribweb.com.

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