Jefferson Hills zoning board revokes UPMC permit
The Jefferson Hills zoning hearing board has revoked the borough’s issuance of a zoning permit to UPMC, siding with a group of residents who have fought hard to keep the healthcare giant from building a 63-bed hospital near the intersection of Elliot Road and Route 51.
However, UPMC plans to appeal the decision.
About 50 people in attendance at the Sept. 16 meeting held at Thomas Jefferson High School erupted in cheers after the decision to strip the zoning permit from UPMC was made in a 4-0 vote.
“It’s wonderful,” said Sandy DeClstro, 71, a 29-year resident of Jefferson Hills, who was sporting a red “Say No to UPMC South” T-shirt at the meeting.
Having a zoning permit is the first step required by the borough for the project to proceed, said Jeffrey Lochner, solicitor for the zoning hearing board.
The board now has 45 days to issue findings of fact. UPMC then has 30 days to appeal the decision after the findings of fact are rendered.
“We intend to appeal this decision and look forward to a positive outcome as we continue to meet the growing demand for UPMC care and services,” said Gloria Kreps, UPMC vice president, public relations.
Last year, UPMC unveiled plans to build the 225,000-square-foot, three-story hospital, that would include an emergency room, imaging center, women’s health facility and operating and recovery rooms. About 30,000 square feet would be dedicated to doctor’s offices. The site would include a helipad and about 700 parking spaces.
Jefferson Hills Borough issued a zoning permit to UPMC, operating under the name AUUE, for the project in October 2018, indicating it could serve as an accessory use in the borough’s office park zoning district. A portion of the land purchased by AUUE Inc. in 2018 is zoned for office park use. That is where UPMC has said they will build the hospital.
A group of 104 residents, in the care of law firm Marcus & Shapira, LLC, appealed the issuance of the permit. Nine hearings were held over the matter.
While UPMC leaders in the past have said there’s a need for the facility to fill a void for their health insurance members in the South Hills, others have questioned its proximity to Allegheny Health Network’s Jefferson Hospital, located roughly one mile away.
For many residents, concerns surrounding UPMC’s plans to build a hospital are many. They range from noise, to lighting, to increased traffic and declining property values.
DeClstro says she fears an increase of traffic would become a safety problem.
“I felt bad for the people who built those huge homes. That’s not going to affect their property value?” she said.
Zoning hearing board members would not say what went into their decision.
“We’re really not going to discuss this,” Chairman David Parme said when asked during the meeting by an attendee. “Fact-finding will come out. We’re following the procedure.”
He declined to comment again after the meeting.
Jonathan Marcus, of Marcus & Shapira, said his firm was excited about the decision.
The next step will come after the findings of fact are issued, when UPMC has the option to appeal in Common Pleas Court.
It will depend on that ruling as to what happens next, Lochner said.
In recent months, UPMC officials also have unveiled that they plan to open an ambulatory care center in West Mifflin at the site of the former Toys R Us store, adjacent to the now-shuttered Century III Mall. It also plans to open an urgent care center at a shopping center along Clairton Boulevard.