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Residents worry about impact of proposed hotel in Monroeville

| Thursday, Sept. 17, 2009

Residents who live behind a proposed hotel site along William Penn Highway near Duff Road are worried about the impact it might have on their homes.

Nine people who live on Lilac and Azalea drives attended a Tuesday meeting with developer Group Six Sigma, which wants to build a four-story, 92-room Hilton Home2 Suites hotel where the Penn Monroe Restaurant and Lounge is located, along with a business that's still to be determined on adjacent vacant property.

"We are open to recommendations," Mark Stulga, director of Six Sigma, told the residents. "We want to have it as beautiful as possible."

The estimated $9.6 million project still must get municipal approval. The planning commission considered the project Wednesday, and council could do so next month.

The hotel would sit about 150 feet away and up a hill from the residential area, but homeowners are worried about increased storm water runoff, noise, lights and more traffic at the already-busy Duff Road intersection.

"That property has been in disarray for 30 years and neighbors have called (Monroeville officials) about problems," said Judy Brown, who lives on Lilac Drive. "Our biggest fear isn't the developer, but it's Monroeville. Will you hold them to code?"

Stulga said a line of trees and a 45-degree engineered slope should reduce noise and ensure that no lights are shining on homes.

Greg Kourniotis, an engineer with R.F. Mitall & Associates of Plum, said his company would be required to make stormwater management system upgrades and improvements to the sewage system. Currently, no stormwater system exists on the property, he said.

Last week, council approved a resolution to apply for a $250,000 grant from the Allegheny County Economic Development Community Infrastructure and Tourism Board on behalf of Six Sigma, which plans to use the money to improve the site.

Don Sherwood, who lives on Lilac Drive, said after the meeting that he's still concerned about what he'll see when he looks out his window.

"I'm still confused. I have to learn more," he said.

Doris Lazenby, who also lives on Lilac, said she simply doesn't want the project in her backyard.

"If I had my choice, I'd say I don't want it at all," she said. "There are other places in Monroeville."

Group Six Sigma is made up of the owners of the properties on which the hotel would be located. Stulga assured the residents that the owners are committed to improving the property, not creating problems.

"These are families just like yours," Stulga said. "They want to maximize the value of the property and have something that will have a lasting impact."

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