South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret Smyka
Contributing Writer 

S.S. Forum briefs include updates on inprovement district


August 9, 2011

A brief meeting of the South Side Planning Forum on Aug. 2 provided updates of issues since the forum last met in June.

The biggest development over the summer break was the denial of a variance by the Zoning Board of Adjustment to the Polish American Club (PAC) of Western Pennsylvania to operate a social club at 2214 East Carson St.

In its July 14 decision, the ZBA said the proposed use would create detrimental transportation impacts, resulting in traffic volumes exceeding the capacity of the streets and intersections likely to be used. It also concluded adequate parking was not provided.

The decision may be appealed to the Court of Common Pleas.

The club would have operated from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m., with a maximum building capacity of 80 people.

"There was a major effort on the part of the community to air our concerns, and I guess they were heard," said forum Chair Hugh Brannan.

The crux of the opposition was there are far too many alcohol establishments in the East Carson St. corridor – resulting in crime, drunk driving, vandalism, trash, noise, etc. — and that a 3 a.m. closing simply extended the problem.

As with the ZBA, there were also concerns about the additional traffic and the lack of adequate parking for club patrons.

In her report of the South Side NID Steering Committee, Susie Puskar said consultants Wendell and Associates visited South Side twice in June, and were here July 27-28. During the June visits, the Steering Committee hosted four public meetings which attracted at least 25 attendees each.

The most commonly suggested things attendees like about South Side are its vibrancy, walkability, and historic architecture.

Those issues needing addressed, according to attendees, are the crime and dirtiness, as well as parking, lack of enforcement, and issues related to rental properties.

The next public meetings will be held in the fall.

"What the June meetings showed, is people are interested in the process and want to see a plan," said Ms. Puskar.

During their July 27-28 visit, Wendell and Associates met with the South Side Chamber of Commerce, the city Law Department, and stakeholders.

A NID is an area established to provide funding for improvements that supplement limited city resources, such as security patrols. An assessment is levied on area properties to fund the improvements.

A NID could not become law until a vote of property owners is taken and approved and then passed by city council.

A survey will soon be released on priorities for services in the community. Those who have questions about the survey are encouraged to call Ms. Puskar at 412-481-0651, ext. 11.

Mr. Brannan questioned whether the committee is on track for the forum to make a decision in December or January, Ms. Puskar replied hopefully, yes.

The goal is to submit a plan in November to the forum. If the forum approves the plan, the forum will be asked to write a supportive letter to city council.

In the LTV Steering Committee report, Mr. Brannan said the committee did not meet, so there are no updates. The next committee meeting will be in September.

Regarding the neighborhood plan, Judy Dyda reported that a meeting of organizational presidents was held the prior week to consider items that might need revisited in light of the South Side LDC's closing next year. The goal is to present a plan update in mid-September for review by forum organizations.

In his update, Mabon Lichtenfels, vice-president of construction and development for the Soffer Organization, said construction began the day before on LA Fitness. The company hopes to begin operations in December.

It will be located in space once occupied by the Joseph-Beth Booksellers at 27th and Carson streets.

The Nine West store closed


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