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South Side forum votes to adopt zoning changes


At last week's South Side Planning Forum meeting, members voted to adopt proposed South Side Flats zoning changes. Highlights include: retaining the current zoning of local neighborhood commercial for the East Carson St. business district; changing the land near the river, from the railroad tracks to Muriel St., that is zoned general industrial to urban industrial; and changing the current zoning of residential multi-unit with moderate density to residential single-unit attached with very-high density for most of the neighborhood.

A forum representative will speak on behalf of the forum at the city Planning Commission meeting on April 22 at 3 p.m. City council could vote on the issue in May.

Forum members also agreed to wait until the South Side Slopes remapping is completed before working on the neighborhood plan so as to integrate all the South Side remapping changes into the plan. The document, which the forum uses to guide its work, is updated every two years.

Janice Crum, of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association, told members that the South Side Local Development Co. and the SSSNA plan to partner to submit an application to the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh for a feasibility study of the South Side park, including Neville Ice Arena and the surrounding park area. Crum said they will try for the June application deadline.

Crum expressed concerns about emissions from the new 14,000 sq.ft. Matcon Diamond manufacturing plant just east of the FBI headquarters, which Matcom hopes to open by the end of the year.

Carey Harris, executive director of the SSLDC, said she would ask plant officials about the issue.

Planning Forum Chair Hugh Brannan called the March 26 town meeting about the South Side Works well-attended, and “a comprehensive review of where things stand.” Roberta Stackawitz, of the South Side Community Council, said some attendees told her they were disappointed names of new businesses were not revealed. But Brannan said some leases may not yet be signed.

Brannon continued that four applicants for the spring funding cycle of the South Side Sports and Recreation Fund met with the distribution committee. He hopes to announce the award recipients at the forum's May 13 meeting.

He also said the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is seeking volunteers to help maintain the South Side's 14 community gardens. If interested, contact Deborah McClain (412-586-2346) or Marianne Cola (412-586-2324).

A student art exhibit can be viewed at the Birmingham Gallery Cafe on Wednesday, May 14, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The works were created in the Brashear Association's arts apprenticeship program for middle school students, and its new artists project at Phillips Elementary School. Admission is free.

The forum's annual meeting will be held on Thursday, May 29, at 8:30 a.m. in either the Brashear Association or UPMC South Side. The informal gathering will feature a state-of-the-South-Side exit talk by Harris, who resigned from the SSLDC, effective May 31, to devote time to her growing family. The event is open to the public. A continental breakfast will be served.

In a related note, Harris said that after she resigns she hopes to devote more time to the South Side Family Network, an informal group she runs with Michele Margittai for parents with children under 5 years old. The group provides an opportunity for South Side families to get in touch with each other and to plan activities, like socializing every couple of months at members' homes.

More structured events and gatherings are future possibilities, as is an e-mail distribution list for the exchange of ideas and information.

If interested in joining, call Harris at 412-303-4406 or Margittai at 412-519-0269.


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