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Sewickley church can repurpose 'pink house' to fellowship center

| Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 11:56 p.m.

After more than a year of debate, Presbyterian church leaders in Sewickley can move forward with plans to repurpose a so-called “pink house” in the borough from a private residence to a fellowship center.

The property at 202 Beaver St. — about one block from the town's village — became the epicenter of debate last year when leaders of The Presbyterian Church, Sewickley, announced plans to demolish the 3,000-square-foot home built in the late-1800s and replace it with a youth and fellowship building for church and public programming. The home was a private residence until early last year.

On Monday, Sewickley Council members voted 4-1 to approve a land-development and conditional-use plan by the church, giving it the go-ahead to repurpose the home.

Members Susan Aleshire, Tom Defazio, Robert Glenn, and James Morrill voted yes. Carole Ford voted no.

Council President Bob Hague recused himself because he is a member of the church. Stan Ference, Bill Cornman and Charlie Driscoll were not present.

Church officials didn't attend the Monday meeting and couldn't be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Council members passed the resolution with conditions, including that parking not exceed 46 spaces on the unified lot.

At issue among some residents living near the church is the proposed location of a preschool-aged playground.

Thorn Street residents Melissa Farlow and Randy Olson filed a lawsuit in Common Pleas Court appealing the borough's April zoning board decision to allow the plan to move forward.

They could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

In testimony, Farlow said “shrieking children” at a playground about 150 feet away sometimes drive her inside her home. She said she worries a proposal to relocate the playlot along Duquesne Way — closer to her home — would increase the noise.

The playground is used for 2½ hours per day from about September through May.

With pending litigation, church leaders can move forward with plans, but run the risk of penalties if courts rule against them, borough Manager Kevin Flannery said.

Glenn said noise issues weren't important: “The fact that kids get out there and make a little bit of noise during the day … quite frankly, I can't get concerned about that.”

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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