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Court will intervene in Ligonier Valley YMCA dispute

| Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A Westmoreland County judge will be asked to sort out the legal wrangling over the proposed expansion of the Ligonier Valley YMCA.

Attorney Daniel Hewitt filed a land use appeal on behalf of Ligonier Borough in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court on Thursday.

That volley was in response to the YMCA's claim it had won “deemed approval” of its conditional use application — a request to use its commercially zoned property for professional medical offices and to add a surface parking lot.

The YMCA's attorney, Mark Sorice, said the Y's application, submitted in June, was granted by default because the borough did not act on it within 60 days, as required by the Municipal Planning Code.

Sorice said council failed to act on the application within 90 days of a public hearing held on the YMCA's zoning requests, which were also submitted in June.

The borough contends the YMCA's claim lacks any legal basis because the YMCA failed to pay the $300 fee to submit the conditional use application.

Because no payment was received, the borough planning commission and council had no obligation to take any action, according to the appeal.

“There is not a record of any application fee having ever been paid,” Hewitt said.

Sorice said a check was given to the borough at the time of submission.

“This is the first time we ever heard that the borough claimed (the YMCA) did not pay,” he said.

The YMCA's plans include a larger drop-off area with a new main entrance, along with an expanded fitness area, therapy pool and squash court. The facilities will be used by Excela Health, which will share therapy resources with the YMCA.

The borough's appeal will not affect the Y's plans to expand, Sorice said.

“A judge could have a final say-so on this, but I don't think it is going to affect the Y's continued efforts,” Sorice said.

A hearing will be scheduled before Judge Christopher A. Feliciani.

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or nchynoweth@tribweb.com.

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