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Sewickley Council vote delayed on 'pink house'

| Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 1:51 p.m.

A Sewickley Council vote on The Presbyterian Church's plans to turn the so-called “pink house” into a fellowship center might come down to the location of a playground.

Council members held a public hearing Monday night, but postponed voting on a land development and unification application until at least next month.

Thorn Street resident Melissa Farlow contends “shrieking children” at the playground drive her inside her home, and she said she's worried a proposal to relocate the playlot closer to her home will increase the noise.

The playground is used for 2½ hours per day — weather permitting — when preschool is in session from about September through May, church member Joan Murdoch said. Some summer sessions also are held.

Murdoch explained that groups of 15 preschool-age children use the playground for a 30-minute period.

Nearby residents also use the playground in the evening, Murdoch said.

Church leaders say they want to reuse the “pink house,” which would allow for more space to offer a variety of programming. The church offers various youth fellowship programs and activities and also hosts at least 20 different groups open to the public.

Save the Pink House group member Peter Floyd told council members he wants church members to save the home and follow six conditions, which include “significant sound barriers,” parking, lighting and to save the home's facade, among others. His group has pledged to raise up to $200,000 to help save the home.

Church member Tim Merrill said the church intends to save the building, but added that “repurposing is more expensive” than new construction.

Planning commission members earlier this month approved recommending the land development and unification plans to council, 4-1.

Stan Ference, council's representative on planning commission, voted no. Shannon Ashmore was not present for the planning commission vote. Included in a list of conditions is a recommendation for a landscaping plan, buffer areas, a sewer and storm water plan, parking and that church officials consider an alternate location for the playground.

Council members will await a court reporter transcription of the planning commission meeting before considering a decision on June 17.

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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