South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

Boro approves leasing on-street parking spaces

 

April 27, 2021



The April public meeting of the Mt. Oliver Borough Council began with a request from a local business to lease several on-street parking spaces on Brownsville Road.

Ben Prisbylla, representing RE360, requested leasing four on-street parking spaces in front of 225 Brownsville Road for valet parking. The request for the spaces was for 5 p.m. to midnight Sundays through Fridays and 4 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays.

Mr. Prisbylla said the spaces were needed for a restaurant and wine shop that would be opening at the location.

"The idea is to ease traffic, to have valet spots there for people to pull in," he said. "As opposed to having people blocking traffic."

When questioned about where the valet service would be parking cars, Mr. Prisbylla said they have talked to the borough manager about possibly using the Middle Way Parking Lot.

Borough Manager Rick Hopkinson added the Middle Way lot is currently under-utilized during the hours the restaurant would be open.

Mr. Prisbylla said they have also secured a lot on Arlington Avenue, but is a block fa rther away.

In order to lease the parking spaces borough council had to amend Section 248 (Vehicles & Traffic) of Ordinance 990 of the Borough Code to establish charges and fees related to the application for, issuance of and maintenance of parking permits. In addition, they had to adopt a resolution establishing a policy for the application and issuance of permits for on-street parking spaces.

Motions were passed in both cases, 6-0, with Councilman Paul Doyle absent.

Following the public hearing, Borough Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Wilharm made a short presentation on the Allegheny County 2020 Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Mr. Wilharm said the county's Hazard Mitigation Plan had been slated for completion on January 1, 2021. Due to COVID-19, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) extended that deadline until June.

The completed plan is more than 140 pages and had been made available to municipalities in electronic form on the county website. The plan covers all manner of hazards.

Mr. Wilharm said the borough had three choices: Adopt the county plan that he and Mr. Hopkinson had participated in crafting; Write their own plan and get it approved by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and FEMA; or, do nothing. If the borough does nothing and a natural disaster hits, even a blizzard, they wouldn't be eligible for assistance from the agencies.

In the two weeks since the plan went out to 130 county municipalities, more than 50 have signed on already. "It's a no brainer," Mr. Wilharm said.

Borough council approved, 6-0, the resolution adopting the Allegheny County Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Francis Kestner and Ron Lowrey from the Mt. Oliver Fire Department were also in attendance and made a report on the fire company's activities.

The fire company responded to 25 EMS calls and 15 fire calls, including two houses on Penn Avenue.

Mr. Kestner said the buildings burned for 45 minutes before they were dispatched.

"It baffled all of us," he said. "It wasn't a small fire."

Council President Amber McGough asked if the properties were on the demolition list and if there was a timeline for the demolition.

Borough Solicitor Emily Mueller said they are in the process of getting what they need from the building inspector explaining that the building has to come down and why it has to come down.

"We need to show that the structure is in pretty immediate danger of collapsing so we're leaning on our third-party professionals to get us that information," Ms. Mueller said.

Once they have the information, the notices can go out for an emergency demolition.

Mr. Hopkinson added the contractor is "ready to go."

In response to a question, Mr. Hopkinson said a lien would be placed against the properties for the cost of the demolition.

Mr. Kestner asked if there was any more discussion on council about repairing the fire company's garage floor which was damaged when sidewalks were replaced.

Ms. Mueller said the council couldn't comment because of pending litigation.

Mr. Lowrey asked where the council was at on the request for a billing ordinance the fire company made in January. The fire company requested an ordinance allowing them to bill insurance companies when they go out on a call.

Mr. Lowrey said he had examples of four other local municipalities ordinances allowing their fire companies to do the billing.

Ms. Mueller said in her research she didn't know if it was legal for them to bill for the services. She added under the state's hazardous substances legislation there's nothing saying the borough would have to pass an ordinance for the fire company to charge a fee for hazardous materials calls. However, she recommended the fire company talk to their attorney first before starting to charge the fee.

In other discussion, the council was asked to review an application for a residential handicapped parking space on Ormsby Avenue.

The discussion centered around whether the tenant requesting the handicapped parking space had use of the garage in the rear of the house. If there is off-street parking available with the residence, a handicapped space would be denied.

All though it is a tenant applying for the space, because the house owner has a garage on the property the request was denied. Council members didn't want tenants using on-street parking for handicapped spaces when landlords were renting their garages to other people and not their tenants.

The council is also considering an ordinance prohibiting parking on grass or dirt. Mr. Hopkinson said if they adopt such an ordinance, people currently with gravel parking pads would be grandfathered in, but any new off-street parking would have to be a non-porous service such as asphalt or concrete.

Mr. Hopkinson said because it's an investment, they should consider allowing people several months to have the surface installed.

 

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