South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Margaret L. Smykla
Contributing Writer 

Mt. Oliver mayor continues to fight against care facility

 


It's not suitable for this borough. We have enough problems," Mt. Oliver Mayor Frank Bernardini said at the May 20 meeting of Mt. Oliver Council about the Auberle Family Healing Center.

The issue arose in a question from a resident about the fate of the former Mt. Oliver School Building on Hays Avenue.

Although the Mt. Oliver Zoning Hearing Board gave conditional approval for Auberle to operate the Auberle Family Healing Center in the former Mt. Oliver School Building, Mr. Bernardini continued to make it clear that his opinion has not changed.

Under Auberle's substance use disorder program proposed for placement in the borough, families impacted by a caregiver's addiction will move into one of the facility's apartments for four to six months with treatment focused on everyone challenged by that addiction.

The 16 apartments currently in the former school building will be renovated into eight apartments along with staff, meeting and training rooms and support facilities.

For months, the mayor has expressed his opposition to the plan, stating the police department is overloaded with all of the drug activity in the borough. He is also concerned for public safety as numerous school busses drop off students by the Hays and Ormsby intersection, or very near the proposed facility.

At the May 20 meeting, the mayor said officials have cited the Americans with Disabilities Act to help justify the plan.

Mr. Bernardini said, to him, disabled refers to those born with a disability or who are seriously injured while working.

He disputed drug or alcohol addiction is a disability, saying it is self-inflicted and "the choice was theirs."

Mr. Bernardini also said Auberle officials agreed to make repairs and safety improvements, and to pay school taxes.

"We will itemize what they are supposed to do. If they don't finish in the timeframe, they must submit a letter for an extension," he said.

The next step is for borough officials to sit down with Auberle and Action Housing to review the borough process and the required submittals for obtaining the necessary building permits.

Once permits are approved there will be a number of required inspections under the Uniform Construction Code (UCC), as well as by the zoning hearing board to ensure compliance with their variance.

Mr. Bernardini said comments were made by some residents that people were paid off in the borough to allow the project to proceed.

"They hide in the shadows and take their cheap shots," he said of those residents.

In the public safety report for April, Mr. Bernardini reported there were 811 total calls for service, and 51 drug arrests, the latter for the seizure of marijuana, crack cocaine, heroin, and pills/paraphernalia.

There were two burglaries: a television from a Brownsville Rd. residence, and miscellaneous items from a Hays Ave. house.

There were two DUI arrests.

There are no nuisance properties, but three are expected next month.

The K-9 units were used 44 times, including for drug searches, arrests, park-and-walks, demonstration, targeted patrols, and a warrant service. Nine warrants were served by the police department.

The police responded to two commercial alarms and seven residential alarms.

Parking Enforcement wrote 72 borough tickets, while the Police Department wrote 17 borough tags. There were 34 state citations issued for parking violations.

The total collected for payment of fines for tickets issued in April was $1,000.

All police equipment is operating properly.

Traffic stops conducted in April totaled 140.

The mayor concluded his report by stating in the past five months there have been two homicides, two home invasions, and 39 shots fired in the borough and McKinley Ave. Most crimes were drug-related, he said.

"It is time for the community to step up.

"If you see something, call 911," he said.

Next, in the fire report for April, there were 55 total incidents, of which 44 were for EMS and 11 were fire related. The average response time, lights and siren, from dispatch to arrival is 5 minutes 49 seconds for EMS, and 8 minutes 14 seconds for fire.

In the treasurer's report, 66 percent of the property tax for 2019 has been collected so far, or $561,191. The total due is $861,780.

In the code enforcement report for April, Councilman Aaron Graham reported there were 48 violations, and 31 of 929 open cases.

There were 16 hearings in front of District Magistrate Richard King.

Twenty-two rental licenses were issued for 40 units, and 26 rental applications/notices were mailed out for licenses expiring May 31.

Five occupancy permits and one building permit were issued. He also reported the Property Stabilization Committee cleaned up a vacant lot at Ottillia and Overhill on April 24.

A zoning ordinance is being prepared that will be voted on next month.

"It's long overdue," he said.

Mr. Graham also reported the Ormsby Park retaining wall is under construction.

He also said "everyone should shop local," citing the new Brownsville Rd. businesses, like the Bakery Society of Pittsburgh's bakery incubator, TC Candy, and Commonwealth Sandwich Co.

Councilwoman Tina Reft reported the Property Stabilization Committee cleaned up 200 Stamm on May 15. She said if anyone knows of an elderly resident needing help let the committee know and it will be addressed as a June project.

In the public works report for April, Councilman David Lowe reported routine facility maintenance was conducted, like emptying trash, cleaning/sweeping, and re-stocking supplies.

Trash cans were emptied three times per week in the business district, and TVs, tires, and debris were picked up throughout the borough.

A one-way sign on Stamm Ave. was replaced. Pot holes were patched throughout the borough.

In Transverse and Ormsby parks, workers emptied trash cans/spot swept three times per week. Grass maintenance was conducted. Maintenance was performed on the following right of ways: Hays Ext., Holzer, Horn, Racioppi Steps, Sunoco Steps, and Gas House Steps.

In sanitary/storm sewer maintenance, inlets were cleaned throughout the borough. Five dye tests were performed.

In resolutions and ordinances, council voted unanimously to sell 102 Brownsville Rd. which the borough owns, for one dollar to the Hilltop Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit engaged in community development in the borough.

Council also agreed to purchase 195 Ormsby Ave. for one dollar.

Council amended the parking schedule to include all streets and locations where parking is prohibited at all times, and which were inadvertently omitted from prior schedules.

A policy on public complaints about non-uniform personnel was adopted.

Residents Edward Feth and Cindy Abbinanti were appointed to the Disruptive Property Appeals Board. Their terms are, respectively, three years and two years, beginning Jan. 1, 2019.

In the question-and-answer segment which concludes meetings, a Louisa St. resident said the ordinance passed that evening on no-parking streets includes Louisa St., but she needs to park on the narrow street.

She has resided there for two months.

She does not have a garage. There is an unattached garage which she cannot navigate.

Mr. Graham said the street has "No Parking" signs. The ordinance fixed an oversight in the code, but the street has always been "No Parking." He said her landlord should find her a place to park.

The resident said she does not want to park far away as it is not safe. She wants to look out her window and be able to see her car.

At a recent meeting, a couple complained that their new neighbors park in front of three garages on the street, thereby making it impossible for them to pull out, or into, their garage.

They said the neighbors park partially on the sidewalk and partially on the street.

Borough manager Rick Hopkinson told the resident he would look into the condition of the garage, which the landlord owns and can therefore repair. The owner could also take it down and create a parking space.

Mr. Hopkinson said it becomes a code issue as one space is required per residential unit.

The final speaker complained about a neighbor's fire pit on their porch. When the wind blows the smells come right over to her house.

Council President Amber McGough said to call the fire department which will look into the rules and educate the neighbor on them.

Mr. Hopkinson said there are distance rules on burning in the county.

Ms. Reft said she did not think one could burn on a porch.

The next council meeting will be on June 17.

 

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