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Sewickley Council zoning tweak would accommodate garage, theater

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Sewickley Council later this month could approve a zoning change to property it owns where a public parking garage and nonprofit theater are being discussed.

Planning commission members last week approved, 5-0, a lot consolidation plan and a zoning amendment for property along Walnut Street. Sharon Pillar and Stan Ference were not present.

Council will consider the two separate plans at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 21 in the borough building, 601 Thorn St.

If approved, property where a nearly 300-spot parking garage and a proposed two-screen movie theater could be built would be part of the borough's Village Overlay district.

The designation carries with it certain design standards, including sidewalk frontage.

Former planning commission member Joan Miles said she favored the Village Overlay distinction.

“If the theater were to remain as C-1, it would be required to have a 10-foot setback,” she said. “That would really destroy the line along Walnut Street.

“A village theater like this should be right up against the streetscape — which is the way you see most theaters.”

Last month, Village Theater Co. leaders said they were closing in on a $1.5 million goal to begin development of the project. Organizers have raised about $1.2 million in pledges — including a $350,000 state grant.

Council members earlier this year began discussing plans to consider a nearly 300-space parking garage on Walnut Street.

In July, council members approved the transfer of $910,000 from reserve funds and the general fund to cover the cost of purchasing about 24,000 square feet of land where the former Ascot Motors stood on Walnut Street.

In an 8-1 vote last month, council approved having Downtown-based financial services firm Janney Montgomery Scott LLC provide due diligence for a bond in the amount of $8.5 million to cover costs associated with a garage. Council member James Morrill voted no.

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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