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Appeal claims error means Mexican War Streets can expand

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 7:15 p.m.

Pittsburgh City Council missed mandatory deadlines for acting on a controversial proposed expansion of the Mexican War Streets Historic District and the district should expand automatically, proponents argued in an appeal filed Wednesday in Allegheny County Court.

City Planning Commissioner Kirk B. Burkley and two Mexican War Streets property owners, Todd L. Kilgore and Jeffrey Diurba, asked the court to grant the expansion. City Solicitor Daniel Regan declined comment, saying the city had not received the appeal.

A city ordinance required council to hold a hearing within 120 days of recommendations by the Historic Review and Planning commissions, and vote within 120 days of receiving the recommendations. Failure to act within that timeframe “shall be deemed approval …,” the ordinance says.

Residents were split over the proposal with proponents arguing it would improve the neighborhood and property values and opponents complaining it would create financial hardship for low-income residents trying to maintain properties.

Burkley, also a war streets property owner, said council missed both deadlines.

“We don't think the city followed the code, and we're going to enforce it through the courts,” Burkley said.

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