Pittsburgh community group sues Mayor Bill Peduto, city department director | TribLIVE.com

Pittsburgh community group sues Mayor Bill Peduto, city department director

Bob Bauder
A Pittsburgh community organization is suing Mayor Bill Peduto and Maura Kennedy, director of the Department of Permits Licenses and Inspections, alleging they’ve refused to enforce city zoning regulations at three neighborhood businesses.

A Pittsburgh community group is suing Mayor Bill Peduto and a city department director, alleging they have refused to enforce landscaping requirements at three North Side businesses.

East Allegheny Community Council last week filed a lawsuit with the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas naming Peduto and Maura Kennedy, director of the Department of Permits Licenses and Inspections, as defendants.

The suit alleges that Peduto and Kennedy are obligated as public officials to force the three businesses — School House Apartments on Tripoli Street, Lockhart Tire on Lockhart Street and a Sunoco station and A Plus market on Cedar Avenue — to comply with landscaping stipulations required by a zoning variance and occupancy permits.

Peduto spokesman Tim McNulty and Kennedy declined comment.

Representatives of the apartments and tire company said they spent considerable time and money planting trees, shrubs and flowers around their businesses. They said much of the greenery has died or been damaged by neighborhood residents.

“I spent $800 two years ago on four ornamentals in front of the (parking) garage,” said Bob Romano, property manager at School House Apartments. “The dogs that love to water my trees killed them. Everybody wants to make that area around the garage their poop spot for their animals.”

Damon Rauso, an owner of Lockhart Tires, said the business has been at the same location for 75 years and has complied with city zoning regulations.

“We held up our bargain,” he said. “We probably spent $30,000 just to fix fences, fix the sidewalk and put trees in. The plants were destroyed (by) kids or whoever. They trampled them and everyone’s dog in the neighborhood destroyed them.”

Sunoco did not return a phone message requesting comment.

Gina Grone, president of East Allegheny Community Council, declined comment.

Board member Nick Kyriazi said building inspectors have refused to enforce landscaping plans approved by the city in 1986. The board sued Kennedy because she oversees the inspectors and Peduto because he’s in charge of the entire city, he said.

“The plans don’t expire,” Kyriazi said. “The city requires people to go to the expense and time to come up with landscaping plans and they don’t enforce it.

Romano and Rauso said the organization never contacted their businesses before filing a lawsuit.

“We’re going to be planting some new trees,” Romano said. “I do put plants in the summertime in the planters. It’s clean. There’s tons of garbage daily that blows from the area that we pick up. I don’t know what more they want me to do.”

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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