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Future of Sewickley's 'pink house' still unclear after ruling

| Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

After months of debate, it's still not certain how leaders of The Presbyterian Church, Sewickley, will move forward with plans for the “pink house” after a ruling from Sewickley's Zoning Hearing Board.

Church attorney Michael Parrish said both re-use of the home at 202 Beaver St. and demolition of the 19th-century-built home remain options for the property thrust into the spotlight last year after church leaders announced plans to demolish the structure.

Zoning hearing board members last week unanimously approved a slew of decisions for the property, where church leaders plan to put a fellowship home offering church programs and meeting space for community organizations and groups, church members have said.

Zoning board member James Eichenlaub, in reading the panel's decision, said church leaders would need a minimum of 43 parking spaces, based on the property's square footage.

Church leaders requested 48 spaces. At previous zoning board meetings, some residents spoke out against plans proposing up to 48 spaces on property between the church and “pink house.”

He said the church did not use “allowable provisions,” including bike racks or “compact-car” parking spaces, to reduce the number of spaces requested.

Board members also concluded church leaders would need a 13-foot buffer between properties in the back of its lot, but said a final number could change.

“It is up to council, who has jurisdiction over this section, to make the final determination,” Eichenlaub said.

Peter Floyd, a member of the grassroots Save the Pink House group, said he supported the church's plan to reuse the home, but wanted parking plans to fall under the borough's residential district guidelines. He said he also wants the property to meet setback requirements.

Church elder Tim Merrill said the church has “gone to great lengths to make sure the proposed parking lot is as unobtrusive as possible.”

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

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