Jefferson Hills zoning board outlines reasons for rescinding UPMC permit
The Jefferson Hills zoning hearing board has released a detailed report on the decision to strip UPMC of a zoning permit for a planned hospital in the neighborhood.
In its 22 pages of fact findings released on Oct. 24 and acquired by the Trib through a Right-to-Know request, the board outlined numerous reasons why a zoning permit should not have been issued for the proposed medical center – which would include a hospital, medical clinic and professional offices – near the intersection of state Route 51 and Elliot Road.
UPMC officials confirmed this week plans to appeal the decision.
UPMC has said it plans to build a 63-bed hospital on the office park-zoned portion of the land it acquired under the name AUUE in 2017 and 2018. One hundred and four residents living nearby challenged the borough’s issuance of a zoning permit, saying Jefferson Hills’ zoning officer misinterpreted the ordinance by not looking at the intented use of the office park zoning district. They also raised challenges that the plans do not meet other zoning requirements.
The zoning hearing board in September sided with the residents and overturned the issuance of a zoning permit to UPMC.
While plans to open UPMC South are making their way through the court system, UPMC in recent months unveiled plans to open an ambulatory care center in West Mifflin at the former Toys R Us store, adjacent to the now-shuttered Century III Mall. UPMC officials had no updates on those plans this week.
On Nov. 1, UPMC opened a 9,810 square-foot Urgent Care and Primary Care facility in the Southland Shopping Center in Pleasant Hills.
UPMC Urgent Care includes a full-service walk-in clinic for patients who need immediate care for minor illnesses and injuries. The Pleasant Hills location is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
The new Primary Care office will feature four clinicians.
In its fact findings related to the proposed UPMC South facilities, the Jefferson Hills zoning hearing board reviewed the initial intent of an office park zoning district.
In their appeal, residents claimed the zoning district was created in the area surrounding Allegheny Health Network’s Jefferson Hospital to allow for ancillary operations, such as professional offices, medical clinics and assisted living facilities.
Both AUUE and Jefferson Hills Borough contend, according to the findings, that since a hospital and medical center are listed as “principal uses by right” in the office park zoning district, that they should be allowed.
The findings review Jefferson Hills’ 1997 Comprehensive Plan that found that the lot on Elliot Road “is not suitable for intense commercial development, but should instead serve as a transition between Route 51 and nearby residential property,” the findings state.
The zoning board determined, in the findings, that the singular term “hospital” was used in this section of the zoning ordinance “to bring Jefferson Hospital into the full conformity as a use by right, and not to allow the development of other hospitals and medical centers in the then newly-created O-P zoning districts.”
The residents in their appeal also argued that the permit should not have been issued prior to a decision being made on other potential zoning violations.
The findings state that the zoning officer issued the permit with the condition that AUUE bring its plans into compliance through the land development process.
The board stated that the alleged zoning issues should have been addressed prior to issuing a zoning permit.
The board also determined that the zoning officer should have rejected the permit because some of the parking spaces for the proposal are not on the same lot as the principal development.