South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

Carrick looks at rezoning through Map Pittsburgh


The rezoning of Carrick through the city-wide Map Pittsburgh project was the main topic of the April 11 29th Ward Carrick Block Watch meeting.

The evening began with a brief presentation by crime prevention Officer Christine Luffey.

She announced news of “Biscuits Bingo,” a fundraiser of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police on Saturday, May 12, noon to 3:30 pm, at St. Pamphilus Church, Tropical Ave., Beechview.

Besides bingo with a $500 jackpot, there will be a 50/50 raffle, Chinese auction, and cash prizes. Refreshments may be purchased.

The $20 tickets for the ninth annual fundraiser will be sold at the door. All proceeds benefit ten local animal organizations.

“I do have a special place in my heart for this,” she said, noting she and her young daughter share their home with three rescue dogs, a rescue bird, and a turtle.

On a somber note, she expected to arrest a disturbed 10-ten-year old the next day who burglarized houses, bullied and threatened children with swords, and, purportedly, has a “kill list.”

The Yorkshire pet of one of the children he threatened was killed with a rock and cinder

block by an unknown assailant.

“Everyone is terrified of this ten-year-old and the parents,” she said.

If anyone sees children abusing animals they should call her. It is an especially serious act considering all serial killers in the U.S. started on their terror tracts by torturing animals, she said.

To a question about a rumored shooting on Steiner St. in the last month, Officer Luffey said she would look into it.

To a complaint about a house where a 17-year-old and his friends are noisy and rowdy, and blare music at all hours, Officer Luffey said to call 911 so a paper trail can be established.

Neighbors should also keep a list of times of when disorderly incidents occur.

Most neighborhoods have one troublesome person, she said.

Next was a presentation on Map Pittsburgh by the Dept. of City Planning's Josette Fitzgibbons, principal planner, and Michael Finley, neighborhood planner.

Map Pittsburgh seeks to tailor land use and development standards to fit the urban character of the city's neighborhoods. As a consequence, it will reduce the need for costly variances.

In the late 1950s the city developed a zoning code that, even then, said Ms. Fitzgibbons, was not truly reflective of the city.

So, to correct that, the city adopted a new code about ten years ago “that looked at Pittsburgh the way it is,” she said.

However, because of the inadequacies of the former zoning ordinance, zoning districts in some areas do not match actual land use.

The goal of Map Pittsburgh is to implement the new zoning ordinance by developing a new zoning map for each neighborhood that reflects land use realities and trends.

City planners work closely with neighborhood organizations and residents of each neighborhood throughout the process to solicit neighborhood input.

Each planner, like Mr. Finley, has been assigned nine to 18 neighborhoods. Mr. Finley, who is assigned to Carrick, will come to block watch meetings anytime he is requested on this topic, said Ms. Fitzgibbons, who supervises the planners.

The process begins with the gathering of land use information by City Planning, followed by the creation of land use, environmental, and density maps for neighborhoods.

City Planning prepares preliminary recommendations for rezoning which are reviewed by small neighborhood groups.

Based on that feedback, the Department prepares revised mapping recommendations for review at neighborhood public meetings.

The proposal is presented to the Planning Commission, followed by city council for final approval. Both steps include public hearings.

For Carrick, Ms. Fitzgibbons said it is mostly a single-family neighborhood. City Planning is thereby proposing R1DL, or residential single unit detached housing, low density; R1DM, residential single unit detached housing, medium density; and R1DH, residential single unit detached housing, high density.

City Planning is also proposing keeping most of Brownsville Rd. as LNC, or local neighborhood commercial. P, for Park, will also be kept.

In response to a question about present multi-units, she said they can remain as all existing structures are “grandfathered,” meaning they are exempt from compliance with any new zoning as long as a valid occupancy permit is on file.

Even if the grandfathered property is sold, it remains grandfathered as the designation runs with the property, not the current owner.

To a question of who needs an occupancy permit, she said all non-residential uses, and all residential uses with 2-units and above, need an occupancy permit.

Single-family houses don't need an occupancy permit.

Meetings on the rezoning issue will be held with local neighborhood groups in April or May, said Ms. Fitzgibbons, at which time the proposed zoning will be presented.

The next block watch meeting will be in September.


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