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Mt. Lebanon rezones former DePaul site for multifamily housing

| Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 12:18 p.m.

Mt. Lebanon commissioners have rezoned the former DePaul School property for high-density housing over the objections of dozens of residents from neighboring Brookline.

Commissioners voted 4-0-1 on Monday, with John Bendel abstaining, to rezone the eight acres off Dorchester Avenue from low-density, single-family residential to high-density residential and mixed-use.

Oxford Development Co. and Green Development Inc. are proposing a 60-unit apartment building for low-income senior citizens and 60 market-rate townhouses on the site, which has been abandoned since the Bradley Center, a behavioral health care facility, moved in 2007.

“It's not that the commission is dying to see an apartment building and 60 townhomes,” said Commissioner Dave Brumfield. “This is an abandoned property, and we'd like to see it developed.”

Residents from Brookline, just across Dorchester and the Pittsburgh border from the property, pleaded with the commission to reject rezoning and keep the land for single-family homes.

Some worried that allowing subsidized housing, even if it were restricted to senior citizens, would invite crime.

Commissioner Kelly Fraasch said subsidized housing, such as apartments in her own neighborhood that accept Section 8 vouchers, did not lead to higher crime.

Oxford Project Manager Ben Kelley said the project was not under the federal Section 8 program, but a state housing program for seniors that would revoke its federal tax credits if the development is not managed properly.

“We want our neighborhood protected and stabilized, not 300 people piled in across the street,” said neighbor Angela Gaito-Lagnese, who wanted the commission to study the proposed development's effect on traffic, crime and runoff before a vote. “How can you change the zoning if you haven't considered the effects?”

Commissioners said Oxford and Green haven't filed detailed plans but the approval process will include planning for traffic improvements and stormwater remediation and more public meetings.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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