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Allegheny

Mt. Lebanon couple sues Hitchhiker Brewing, claims it's a nuisance

| Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, 4:12 p.m.
A can and a pour from Hitchhiker Brewing Co.
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A can and a pour from Hitchhiker Brewing Co.

A Mt. Lebanon couple is suing a brewery that recently received national accolades contending its local pub brings large crowds, parking problems and unruly behavior to the community.

Hitchhiker has become “a victim of their own success,” according to attorney Robert Goldman who represents the couple living near the taproom in Mt. Lebanon.

Husband and wife Jason Sheraw and Adelle Nalevanko claim Hitchhiker’s pub on Castle Shannon Boulevard does not limit the number of customers who patronize the taproom, leading to rowdiness. Examples cited in the lawsuit include public urination, trespassing and trash on their property along with loud noise and parking issues.

Hitchhiker Brewing Company and the solicitor for Mt. Lebanon did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The lawsuit was filed Jan. 2 in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

Two weeks ago, Hitchhiker was named “One of the Best Breweries to Watch in 2019” by online magazine Hop Culture .

Goldman said Hitchhiker Brewing Company’s building has outgrown the zoning classification for the area and its nearby residential neighborhoods and that Mt. Lebanon officials are not taking any enforcement action.

Hitchhiker Brewing opened its Mt. Lebanon location in 2016 and ran a brewery and taproom from there. The brewery moved to Sharpsburg in 2017, and the Mt. Lebanon location maintains a pub.

“I believe the occupancy permit limits it to 22 persons and if you kept it to that, you probably wouldn’t disrupt the neighborhood,” Goldman said. “But because they’ve outgrown that location, they’ve got tables on the exterior now and they’ve got more people outside than inside and it’s that crowd noise, that crowd trespassing on the neighbor’s property that is leading to these complaints.”

Also named in the lawsuit is Mt. Lebanon for allegedly failing to protect the property rights of residents, namely Sheraw and Nalevanko, and approving the occupancy permit for Hitchhiker Brewery to sell alcoholic beverages from the Mt. Lebanon location with the “full knowledge that (the) defendant did not possess a Restaurant type liquor license.”

“We’re alleging that the owners of the property knew all along that this was a brewery and that it was not going to be operated as a quiet restaurant,” said Goldman. “If you have 80 people outside and 20 people inside, the problem you have is the bathrooms which are on the inside. You have one toilet for a female and one toilet for a male. If there’s 20 people maybe you’re okay but if you’ve got 100, I don’t think that’s enough bathroom space which leads to my clients’ complaints.”

Paul Guggenheimer is a freelance writer.

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