By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Carson Street rooftop deck joins NID and LTV at S.S. Planning Forum discussion


November 15, 2011

A proposed rooftop deck on a restaurant and sports bar, the NID and LTV steering committees' updates, were the focus of the Nov. 8 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum.

Brothers Frank and Brian Vetere, of the Carson City Saloon, 1401 East Carson St., said their plan is to construct a rooftop deck for a new 1600 square-foot serving area. They came to the forum to solicit members' comments and feedback as they want to comply with city codes and also be a good neighbor in the community.

Architect David McLean said because the building is historic, they have been to the Historic Review Commission (HRC) about the project.

He said while a specific design is a work-in-progress, the plan is for the interior stair that currently serves the mezzanine to be extended to the roof level. An exit will be an exterior stair on the rear of the building where there is currently a small fire escape.

The rooftop deck will not be visible from the street, per the HRC. On the rooftop, which would only be available in the summer, there will be no bands, live music or disc jockeys.

There will be additional bathroom stalls on the mezzanine level.

The new serving area would seat an additional 100 customers. The current capacity is 196, which would remain the limit when the rooftop is closed.

No parking plans have yet been devised.

While neighbors have not yet been contacted about the proposed project, they will be, said Frank Vetere.

Judy Dyda, manager of community planning at the South Side LDC, said she would supply the Veteres with the 12 rules Adam DeSimone, co-owner of the Diesel nightclub, agreed to with his proposed rooftop deck. The rules included no loud music, plastic bottles and glasses, and more.

She called an additional 100 patrons drinking “a concern.”

Christine Gaus, of the Brashear Association, said rooftop decks increase density. If all the bars in South Side increased their densities by 50 percent there would be numerous problems, she said.

Regulations for rooftop decks, which are new to the South Side, are for the city's planning and zoning departments to deal with on a city-wide basis, she said. By Nov. 30, the Veteres will appear again before the HRC and the Local Review Committee.

In her report of the South Side Neighborhood Improvement District NID) Steering Committee, Susie Puskar said two well-attended public meetings on the proposed NID were held in October.

In a NID, property owners agree to a self-imposed annual fee for services which supplement those provided by the city, such as a security team, park maintenance, improved parking signage, and more.

For the current plan proposal, visit the Steering Committee website at

The proposal calls for rates of 2 mills on assessed value for owner-occupied residential property, capping the monthly rate at $40. The rate is 4 mills for residential rental, and 6 mills for commercial.

Seniors who qualify for Allegheny County's property tax rebate program (Act 77) would be exempted from NID fees.

The plan also calls for freezing assessed values at current rates regardless of the county reassessment schedule.

The state's improvement district law states the city cannot reduce the level of services it provides to a community if the community forms an Improvement District.

Those with questions, comments, or want to schedule a group meeting concerning the NID, may contact Ms. Puskar at 412-481-0651, extension 11.

She said the committee is currently working on changes based on input from the recent public meetings and other feedback from residents, and will be making another presentation on a date to be determined.

In the LTV Steering Committee report, Marty Uram, a committee member, said a special initiative was discussed at the last meeting. The idea is to merge the LTV Steering Committee and the Design Review Committee of the South Side LDC.

The merged committee would be called the “Development Review Committee,” and would become a standing committee of the Planning Forum.

The LTV Steering Committee has monitored development on the South Side Works site for 16 years.

The Design Review Committee has been doing design reviews of South Side projects, upon request, for over 20 years.

Mr. Uram said with the South Side LDC planning to dissolve next year, the fate of the Design Review Committee is in jeopardy. The recommendation to merge both committees will be formally presented to the Planning Forum in early 2012.

Ms. Dyda, who is working on the Neighborhood Plan revision, said there will likely be many recommendations in the revision in light of the dissolution.

Chuck Half, of the Mayor's Office, said the forum has to better inform the city of its process as the evening's presenters from the Carson City Saloon were not aware of it. Representatives of Duquesne University who appeared at last month's forum meeting to discuss its South Side shuttle were also not aware of the process.

Forum Chair Hugh Brannan said he would ask the Local Review Committee, which reviews projects related to South Side, to make a presentation at the forum's next meeting.

The next forum meeting will be on Dec. 13.


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