The Sewickley Zoning Hearing Board unanimously approved an appeal from the Presbyterian Church, Sewickley, involving lot consolidation plans that include the Beaver Street property also known as the “pink house.”
The three-member board ruled Wednesday that the pink structure at 202 Beaver St. should be considered a place of assembly under the borough ordinance, overturning an earlier determination from Nancy Watts, borough code enforcement officer.
Michael Parrish, church attorney, made the case that the youth center stands alone as a place of assembly and should be classified as a principal use. The board agreed, ruling that Watts made an error in her determination.
In August, Watts ruled that the church's proposed use for a youth center and parking lot are “accessory uses,” and must be unified on the same lot as the “principal structure,” which is the church. Watts determined the church would have to unify all three of its four lots before proceeding with youth center plans. A fourth property, a single-family home that the church owns, is up for sale.
Watts explained her decision to the planning commission in September and reiterated the same to zoning board members during an October hearing.
The church governing board initially decided to raze the pink house to build a new youth and education center. Following public outcry, church leaders agreed to preserve and renovate the home and worked with neighbors to come up with solutions. Church officials say final plans rest on borough approvals.
The zoning board ruled:
- The church’s unification plans to consolidate the two lots into a single lot may proceed subject to review by the planning commission and borough council in compliance with the set chapters contained in the borough code of ordinances.
- The church’s proposal for conditional use as a place of assembly is remanded back to the code enforcement officer who may proceed to make a new determination with the consideration of 202 Beaver St. as a principal use.
- The board finds there is a direct conflict between the 400-square-foot limitation of off-street parking for residential lots and the parking requirements for places of assembly in another section of the code. The board grants a variance solely for the purpose of addressing the conflict between the two sections.