North Huntingdon fireworks store sparks debate over building design
A newly constructed fireworks store off Route 30 in North Huntingdon may have to close because of a dispute with the township over the company’s failure to construct the metal building’s facade according to the approved land development plan.
Township officials told Wholesale Fireworks representatives the Hubbard, Ohio, firm must present a revised plan for the facade at the commissioners’ July 17 meeting in order to be granted an extension of its June 21 temporary occupancy permit. The board intends to vote on extending the occupancy permit on Wednesday.
Pittsburgh attorney Shawn Gallagher, representing Wholesale Fireworks, requested a 30-day extension to allow the 5,700-square-foot store at 80 Gregg St. to remain open, saying a week was not sufficient time to develop a new plan.
The commissioners grilled company representatives on July 11 over Wholesale Fireworks’ failure to construct the building with the cut stone facade around the exterior, as had been approved in December. The architectural stone around the foundation of the building is not to window level, which was “an honest mistake,” Gallagher said.
“This is at the entrance way to the community. What you’ve given us kind of looks like a barn,” said Commissioner Brian Blasko, who spoke against the company’s initial plan for the building.
Commissioner Zachary Haigis said he wants stone on at least three sides of the building, as presented to the township. The intention was to have the company submit a plan and start the work, rather than get another extension, Haigis said.
Commissioner Darryl Bertani said he wants Wholesale Fireworks to build what it said it would, though he was willing to give the company 30 days to present the comprehensive plan.
“You now you want another 30 days to come up with another design. What have you been doing for 30 days?” asked Commissioner Tony Martino.
Wholesale Fireworks representative Greg McCandless said engineers told him three sides of the building would have to be removed to insert stone on the facade, or an entire foundation would have to be built at the site. To do the work, the business would have to close briefly, McCandless said.
Gallagher said conditions for obtaining the final occupancy permit “were not expressly stated” in the approval of the site plan. Furthermore, architects have told the company that cutting the building to insert the stone would be “crippling,” because a new foundation would have to be built.
Wholesale Fireworks was granted a temporary occupancy permit last month to sell firecrackers, sparklers and other pyrotechnics in the weeks leading up to the July 4 holiday — a period during which McCandless said 80 percent of its sales occur, and 90 percent happens on one day.
“The fireworks business is a lot like Santa Claus. It happens on one day,” McCandless said.
Gallagher said he did not want to be confrontational with North Huntingdon, but Wholesale Fireworks has options in the dispute, including going to Westmoreland County court.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .