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Zoning hearing for Dundee Farm in Sewickley Heights could take months

| Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, 11:00 p.m.

A ruling on whether the owners of a 32-acre farm in Sewickley Heights violated local zoning rules could take months.

A zoning board hearing on Jan. 23 was continued to 3 p.m. Feb. 21, to hear testimony, and the proceedings are likely to continue again.

It will take “a couple months,” borough Manager Katie Stringent said.

“The hearing itself will take quite some time to get all the testimony in,” she said.

Dundee Farm owners Scott and Theresa Fetterolf are fighting a borough violation notice issued in October that says they aren't allowed to offer classes and hold weddings on the property, located at the corner of Blackburn and Scaife roads, which is in a rural-residential district.

The couple appealed, triggering a hearing before the three-member zoning hearing board.

The Fetterolfs could appeal any borough decision to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

Theresa Fetterolf declined comment.

Her attorney Alisa Carr, a partner in the firm Leech Tishman, previously said she could not comment.

The company's Facebook page describes Dundee Farm and Fields, LLC as “a Pennsylvania USDA recognized farm,” with a yard and wool shop, apiary, weekly CSA/farmstand, agricultural educational classes and an adaptive farming program. The limited liability corporation was formed in 2015, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.

Commercial uses — such as using a property as a wedding venue or use of the property as “place of worship” or “place of assembly” — are not permitted in a rural-residential historic district, Stringent said. Classes could be permitted with a variance, which means that the property owner has to seek permission, and the zoning board would vote on the request.

The mostly residential community of 800 was established in 1935, a haven for wealthy families who built estates in “the Heights,” located about 15 miles northwest from Pittsburgh.

The move comes at a time when borough leaders are working to preserve the character of the community. A 2014 pattern book lays out the community's history and offers guidance on future development.

The Fetterholfs acquired the property in 2003, according to Allegheny County real estate records.

The hearing is set for Feb. 21 in the municipal building on Country Club Road.

Kimberly Palmiero is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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