Sewickley Country Inn Court Battle Continues Years After it Began

A former motel on the four-acre site remains shuttered.

A battle over a proposed development of the property on Ohio River Boulevard continues to wind its way through the court system years after lawsuits were filed appealing a zoning variance.

Sewickley Solicitor Richard Tucker said he will appear in Commonwealth Court this afternoon in Pittsburgh to begin oral arguments in the matter of the former Sewickley Country Inn property at 801 Ohio River Boulevard. 

Borough Manager Kevin Flannery, who will also be there, said Monday night that ongoing litigation has cost the borough $50,000 in legal fees up to this point. 

Sewickley resident and attorney Michael Lyons and developer Clifford Krey in November 2009 each filed lawsuits against the borough and MCM Ventures Ltd. in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court appealing the variance the Sewickley Zoning Hearing Board granted to MCM to establish two office buildings and single-family housing at former Country Inn site.

At issue is the approved variances developers received for parking lot coverage, rear, side and front yards, and constrution of off-street parking from the property's previous use as a hotel.

The suits claims the zoning hearing board "abused its discretion, and committed errors of law" in granting the variances.

MCM has proposed razing the Country Inn at the four-acre site and replacing it with two office buildings along the Route 65 portion, and constructing 14 homes along the Thorn Street side. The Country Inn was a fixture in the community for about 50 years, serving as a hotel, restaurant and bar, and banquet facility.

Council on July 19, 2010, voted to amend the zoning ordinance and reclassify the area of the County Inn property for mixed-use development. The vote essentially allowed the property owners to construct office buildings with various uses at the site, which Lyons and Krey also appealed in court, alleging the new classification constituted spot zoning.

Tucker said today's hearing will be brief and he doesn't expect a decision today.


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