ShareThis Page
Penn Hills

'The Lord needs it,' pastor tells Penn Hills in failed rezoning bid for church

Dillon Carr
| Wednesday, June 6, 2018, 11:15 a.m.
The site of the former Bottom Dollar store on Frankstown Road in Penn Hills could become a branch of the Monroeville Assembly of God church.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Tribune-Review
The site of the former Bottom Dollar store on Frankstown Road in Penn Hills could become a branch of the Monroeville Assembly of God church.

Penn Hills Council voted against a church's request to rezone a vacant property from business to residential because the township doesn't want to lose out on tax revenue there.

The Rev. Lance Lecocq, a pastor at Monroeville Assembly of God, asked Penn Hills to rezone the 22,600-square-foot building at 12012 Frankstown Road from commercial to residential.

The Pentecostal Christian church wanted to develop its fifth campus in the region at the former Bottom Dollar grocery store. It also wanted to house its third Sheep Inc. Health Care Center, a free health clinic for those without health insurance.

Council voted 4-1 against the request, with Deputy Mayor Catherine Sapp — a minister — voting in favor. The municipality's planning commission recommended denial in May.

“We don't want to put a dollar figure on someone who needs help,” Mayor Sara Kuhn said before voting against the request. “Unfortunately, as I stated, you chose the heart of Penn Hills. We have to put our personal beliefs aside and we have to make our decision based on what is best for the entire community and residents.”

According to county real estate records, the property generates $52,000 a year in tax revenue. Under current millage rates, around $7,500 of that goes to the municipality and around $6,500 goes to the county. The school district receives a little more than $38,000.

The property is assessed at $1.3 million.

Lecocq used a spiritual argument to plead his case before council one last time. He referenced a story from the Bible, in which Jesus asked people to get him a donkey to ride into Jerusalem.

“As they were untying it, people asked why. And the answer was, ‘The Lord needs it.' And that answer was sufficient. The Lord needs the property located at 12012 Frankstown Road. Please untie it for him. It's tied up, you have the abilities to untie it, the Lord needs it. We're asking you to untie it,” Lecocq said.

After the meeting, the pastor said he is disappointed with council's decision but not in the people.

“I understand where they're coming from and the responsibilities they have to make,” he said. The church is still under contract with Aldi on the property, which has a $1.2 million sale price, Lecocq said.

He said the church is still determined to develop a church in Penn Hills.

“We're looking at alternate locations. But we need considerable size, so that limits it. Most that have been presented are on the smaller size,” the pastor said.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me