Expansion plan puts North Side neighbors at war
Homeowners in the Mexican War Streets are split over a plan to include more of the North Side neighborhood in a historic district, meaning a city commission would have to approve exterior changes to buildings.
Residents say rancor over the proposal has divided the neighborhood and included such antics as anonymous hate letters slipped under the doors of people who oppose the plan.
About 40 residents took their complaints to City Council on Tuesday. Council rescheduled a public hearing because of a Planning Department error in notifying people about it.
“I can't see somebody telling me what I can do with (my house), how I can do it and when I can do it,” said Blaine G. Edwards, summing up the most common complaint. “For somebody to tell me what I can and cannot do is out of the question for me.”
The city in 1972 designated part of Mexican War Streets — Sampsonia Street to North Avenue and Sherman Avenue to Drover's Way — a city historic district. Supporters want to push the district's boundaries to Reddour Street, Charlick Way, Carrington Street, Armandale Street, Redknap Street and Cameo Way.
Proponents say the expansion would not require any property owner to change anything in place. Going forward, the Pittsburgh Historic Review Commission would have to approve any changes to building exteriors.
“Everything in this neighborhood is grandfathered. ... What's going on here is people are looking for any excuse at all to derail this,” said Paul Johnson, president of the Mexican War Streets Society, which supports the expansion.
Opponents say the area surrounding the historic district is different architecturally and not suited for such a designation. They say they weren't included in the planning.
“This process is not a democratic process,” resident John Canning said. “This really breaks my heart to see the tensions this has created in my community.”
Johnson said the main reason for the expansion is to make it harder to demolish historic buildings.
He said the proposal is part of the neighborhood's master plan for development. The Mexican War Streets Society and Allegheny City Central Association hired consultants to make the plan, held 18 public meetings attended by as many as 200 people and went door-to-door with informational flyers during the past 18 months.
“Several of the people who objected today voted to make this nomination,” said Kirk Burkley, a member of the Pittsburgh Planning Commission who proposed expanding the historic district. “How do you get volunteers to spend countless hours of their time to put together a community plan if people get to come in at the last second and say, ‘I wasn't involved, I don't like it?' ”
Council members said they would wait until after the public hearing to decide whether to support the proposal. The hearing starts at 6 p.m. June 17 at the Institutional Church of God, 302 W. North Ave.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Storms knock out power to several hundred in Western Pa.
- Judge dismisses UPMC ‘data breach’ lawsuit
- Penn State lands 4-star offensive lineman from Reading
- Steelers’ defense unfazed by noise, believes in potential
- Police charge third man in fatal shooting of teenager in Monroeville
- Gunmen hijack buses in Pakistan, kill passengers
- Gameday: Pirates at Padres, May 30, 2015
- Man dies trying to escape fire at his North Buffalo home
- Massive coal breaker, Pennsylvania’s last, is coming down
- Inmate assaults Westmoreland County sheriff’s deputy at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital
- Brief lockdown lifted at Jeannette school after unfounded report of man with weapon