Whitehall Country Club site could be multifamily housing

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 8:36 p.m.

A rezoning of the 4.3-acre former Whitehall Country Club property along Provost Road could allow for the development of multifamily housing on the site, leaders say.

Whitehall Council last week, in a 6-1 vote, authorized the borough's planning commission to evaluate potential zoning changes that could allow for future development of the site, owned by Rising Sun Martial Arts Inc.

Councilwoman Kathy DePuy dissented.

“The current zoning just doesn't lend itself to the redevelopment of the site, especially with its topography,” borough Manager James Leventry said.

The Whitehall Country Club, complete with a large pool, tennis, shuffle board and volleyball courts, was opened by a group of residents in 1959. A decline in membership led the club to close within the last five years.

Rising Sun Martial Arts Inc. purchased the property in 2009 for $72,000, Allegheny County assessment records show. Former country club manager Charles Hosler said at the time that the plan was to construct an indoor recreational facility on the site for Rising Sun Martial Arts.

But Hosler, who also is involved with Rising Sun Martial Arts, and his wife, Patty, were unable to secure the funds to do so, Patty Hosler said. The property then was listed for sale.

Two developers expressed interest in the site, said Whitehall Councilman Phil Lahr, who proposed looking at a zoning change. Both developers were interested in using the property for multifamily housing, Lahr said, such as housing for people with disabilities or lower incomes.

The property currently is zoned as R2-S, which allows for residential, single-family developments but no multiunit buildings, Leventry said.

Lahr suggested officials look at rezoning the site as R-5, a residential zoning that would permit multifamily housing.

Council members agreed that all options should be explored for the site.

“It's certainly possible that the planning commission will have a recommendation with no change to that zoning,” planning commission vice chairman Steve Palome said.

Patty Hosler said she supports council's efforts to look at rezoning the property.

Council members agreed they must proceed with caution because the planning commission reviews possible zoning changes.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or shacke@tribweb.com.

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