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Penn Hills

Penn Hills School District requests variance for former library property

Dillon Carr
| Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, 4:45 p.m.
The former library on Aster Street that was owned by the Penn Hills School District before its sale was approved in April 2018.
The former library on Aster Street that was owned by the Penn Hills School District before its sale was approved in April 2018.

Penn Hills School District has asked the municipality to allow a potential buyer of an Aster Street property to use it as a car repair and storage shop.

The vacant property — the former Penn Hills library until the school district bought it in 2007 — sits within a residential zone. The school district applied for a use variance from the municipality.

The school board approved the $62,000 sale to Steve Parco in April. Parco said he plans to use the 234,000-square-foot facility as an auto repair shop and vehicle storage unit. He plans to store 35 to 40 cars inside.

District Superintendent Nancy Hines said the school technically still owns the property, but ownership will transfer to Parco if the municipality grants the use variance.

Penn Hills Planner Damien Buccilli said the planning department recommends denial of the district’s application.

“This variance request is going to alter the character of the neighborhood and have a deleterious effect on the surrounding properties,” he said, adding the issue is an example of “spot zoning.”

“It’s a classic example … where you have one piece of property zoned one thing and surrounded by something else,” Buccilli said.

The school district’s solicitor, Craig Alexander, and Parco did not respond to requests for comment.

In the district’s application, Alexander wrote, “due to peculiarities of the property, it has been unable to be sold for any permitted use in the present zoning application. Additionally, the property is in significant disrepair, with significant roof damage, mold, etc.”

Hines said she understands the municipality’s concerns.

“However, the building hasn’t been used for years. I’m a resident here too,” Hines said. “I think it benefits the community to sell it and do the necessary repairs the district cannot afford to do and put it back on the tax rolls.”

Penn Hills zoning hearing board is set to consider the matter at a meeting at 7 p.m. Sept. 26.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, dcarr@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

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