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By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writing 

Planning forum discusses ongoing South Side projects


Last updated 5/16/2016 at 5:32pm

The May 10 meeting of the South Side Planning Forum began with the monthly report of the Development Review Committee (DRC) as there were no presentations.

DRC Chair Tracy Myers reported that the Giant Eagle on Wharton St. is undergoing renovation, with outdoor signage for the pharmacy being the focus of some discussion.

The renovated store will not be a market district but a “signature” store.

 She also said the parking lot will be realigned, with its design probably coming before the DNC.

City Councilman Bruce Kraus would later add that the renovation represents a roughly $10 million commitment from Giant Eagle. The remodeling is expected to finish in August, with the grand opening in September.

Regarding the four-townhouse project on Brosville St., Ms. Myers said its shared elevator makes it a multi-family building, which is not permitted in hillside zoning, and therefore requires a use variance.

The Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) decision is due at the end of the month.

 Ms. Myers also reported she and DRC member Peter Kreuthmeier plan to meet with the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association (SSSNA)’s Zoning, Housing, and City Services Committee to discuss development guidelines for the Slopes, which the DRC would use in reviewing Slopes proposals that come before it.

Next, Christine Gaus, of the Brashear Association, reported city Councilman Bruce Kraus spoke at the prior day’s neighborhood plan committee meeting, including about his Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) and parking enhance district (PED) recommendations.

She said a significant outcome is that Mr. Kraus will report to the planning forum every other month or monthly.

Ms. Gaus also said there will be a board orientation for neighborhood groups on the role of the planning forum as the latter must approve activities related to policy.

Ms. Myers added Mr. Kraus said there will eventually be dynamic pricing at the city parking meters.

 She also said Duquesne University should have a seat on the planning forum, and that Adam DeSimone wants the South Side Bar and Restaurant Association (SSB&RA) to become a member.

In new business, the Fourth Annual Lucky’s South Side Dog Festival will take place on June 26, for which 24th St. will be closed off.

The event aims to create awareness regarding dogs while providing a fun-filled day for families with games, exhibits, adoption opportunities, and more.

The festival requested a letter of support from the planning forum.

Next, forum Chair Hugh Brannan called the late Roberta Stackawitz, a former planning forum member, “a dear friend to many of us.”

Mrs. Stackawitz, 88, died on April 29. She served several terms as president of the South Side Community Council and the Friends of the South Side Library. She was also a member of the Board of Directors of the South Side Local Development Co., among numerous other community activities.

Candice Gonzalez, executive director of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, distributed copies of the new “South Side Neighborhood Guide”. It is available for free at the Welcome Center, 1100 East Carson St.

The joint venture of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Chamber features: a history of the South Side; a foldout map of businesses, bike share locations, bus stops, summer entertainment, etc .; a listing of South Side attractions; and more.

The cover artwork is by South Side artist Johno Prascak, at no cost.

 Ms. Gonzalez also reported Chamber volunteers totaled 34 in April for 197 volunteer hours. There were 285 visitors to the Welcome Center. Year-to-date, there were 125 Chamber volunteers for 888 volunteer hours. The Welcome Center had 1,882 visitors.

The Welcome Center also serves as a drop-off site for Penn’s Corner, which delivers fresh fruit and vegetables which customers pay for in advance. In April, 25 boxes of fresh food were delivered. So far this year, 102 boxes were delivered to the Welcome Center for pick-up.

In other news, about 12 Hilltop elementary-aged youths learned to use compasses and more at South Side Park, with funding from a Birmingham Foundation grant. The object of the program was to stir interest in the park as many of the youths had never been there. The event was conducted by the SSSNA.

In his remarks, Mr. Kraus said the controversial, proposed single-family residential development, Villas at Winter Park, on Hackstown St. in the Slopes, will go before the Planning Commission at 1:30 p.m. on May 17, 200 Ross St. The applicant submitted geological studies for consideration.

The next forum meeting will be on June 14.


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