Sewickley Planning Commission to Review Pink House Plans in May
A formal hearing for the plans may not happen until July.
A public hearing to consider plans from the Presbyterian Church, Sewickley, for a youth fellowship center at the "pink house" site on Beaver Street may not happen until July, according to Sewickley borough officials.
Borough Manager Kevin Flannery told planning commission members Wednesday night the church has asked for a delay in the preliminary review of plans until the May 2 planning commission meeting, most likely because the church wants to first meet with the public on April 10 to discuss the plans.
Sewickley Council that same night voted to advertise a change in the ordinance to be adopted April 16, but the church met the time-frame under the old ordinance. Under the changes, places of assembly, religious institutions and parks are no longer permitted as conditional uses in R-1 and R1-A zoned districts.
Flannery said the church applications, however, will be considered under the old conditional use requirements. The church is the only entity to submit applications under the former law, he said.
“If you want to say that they beat the gun, got the right time-frame, whatever they did… the application is good,” Flannery said.
The church's plans to raze the Coyle property, built in the mid-1800s, spurred controversy and several community petitions from residents who want to preserve the home. A community action meeting is taking place tonight at the Sewickley Public Library to explore possible ways to save the home ahead of a community meeting the church has planned for next week.
The church's applications include a unification plan to have the “pink house” property at 202 Beaver St. added to the church property. The church is also reviewing a second residential property on Thorn Street that adjoins the church land to possibly make it an independent home.
Flannery said the church was given a time extension due to the upcoming community information meeting and the possibility they many want to make changes to the overall plans.
“I believe they want to do their due diligence,” he told the planning board members.
Final plans from the church have to be submitted to the borough by April 18 to give planning commission members enough time in advance to review them.
Flannery said if the planning commission is inclined after next month's preliminary review to move forward, the board will then establish a date for a formal review. Even if preliminary review items are satisfactory, he said the hearing may not happen until July because the borough must give the county 45 days to review.
Given the sensitive nature of the project, Flannery said the solicitor will also issue an opinion pertaining to board members who are current or former church members and whether they should render an opinion on 202 Beaver St.
“So that your consciences can be clear,” Flannery said.
Planning Commission Chairman Paul Pigman, who is a church member, is awaiting the solicitor's opinion, but said he would like to participate in the process.
He cautioned board members to only make comments in a public setting and to refrain from speaking to the media on behalf of the board.
“You should not make comments to the press as a voice for the planning commission," he said. "That is unacceptable.”