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Union Real Estate sues over Greensburg zoning law

Rich Cholodofsky
| Saturday, April 28, 2012, 4:03 a.m.

The owner of a Greensburg shopping plaza wants a county judge to invalidate a city ordinance that mandates property renovations must be approved by a local historic review board.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Union Real Estate Co. of Pittsburgh contends Greensburg's zoning ordinance was improperly amended in 2007 to create two historical districts.

At issue is planned repairs to the facade of the Save-A-Lot grocery store on East Pittsburgh Street. Plans to renovate the structure last year were tabled by the city's historic review board. Subsequent negotiations to resolve the issue reached an impasse.

The developer now claims the 2007 ordinance is invalid because the city did not obtain approval from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission before implementing the rules.

The lawsuit contends the historic review board no longer holds jurisdiction over renovation plans in the area where the shopping center is located, so approval to make the repairs rests solely with city officials.

An application for a building permit was submitted to the city on April 29 and denied May 6 by city Planning Director Barbara Ciampini, who directed the request back to the historic review board.

Ciampini said yesterday the city's ordinance is valid.

"The city went through the proper channels," Ciampini said. "We're in our third year with the ordinance and never had a single problem."

Greensburg officials two years ago amended its zoning ordinance and created two historic districts, one that oversees development and all building repairs in the downtown district, and another that addresses areas that lead into the downtown area.

She said the Save-A-Lot renovations were not rejected by the city but tabled by the historic review board. City officials said they wanted repairs to the entire plaza and not just the grocery store.

"They were given feedback and asked to come back with a new plan," Ciampini said.

City Solicitor Timothy McCormick said he had not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on its allegations.

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