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Rescheduled Planning Commission Meeting Location Determined

The May 5 meeting will take place in the Community and Recreation Center.

The rescheduled planning commission meeting on May 5 at 7:30 p.m. will take place at the new .

Attendees will gather in community rooms A, B and C.

The April 21 meeting was postponed and rescheduled due to the large number of residents that attended the meeting. More than 100 people were spilling out of the municipal building's meeting room, which only holds 50 seats.

Most of the residents were there to speak out against the proposed text amendment that would allow mixed-use development on the former Consol Energy headquarters land. The residents were optimistic more people would be able to attend the May 5 meeting because it will not be during the school district's spring break.

Also on the planning commission agenda on May 5, whether the township should allow electronic message center signs.

Bill April 27, 2011 at 03:39 PM
The first meeting exceeded the limit on the room. Can the community do it again? The proposal gives the developer unfettered authority to develop with very little restriction. Once the amendment goes through, there is no stopping what can go there. That is why this stage is so critical. Reasonable development is one thing. Unfettered discretion for a developer takes the power away from the people and into the hands of one person. That is unacceptable. What about reasonable size limitations on buildings, limited uses, height restrictions, and every other protection that already exists in the code. As currently proposed, the developer will not have any of these restrictions and will have the only area zoned this way in USC. He can put in tall buildings, big box stores and trample the residents in the area. What about protecting the community over the goal of one developer? BE THERE TO STOP THE REZONING
ed henry April 27, 2011 at 05:30 PM
@Bill - I don't understand what you mean when you say the proposal gives unfettered authority to the developer. The public hearing to present the proposal hasn't taken place yet so how do we know what's in it? I completely agree that reasonable development should be the goal but also want to trust that the existing commission and development review process has checks/balances in place (including public hearings) to ensure that developers can't run amok. I'm new to USC so I'd be interested to get your take on whether history has proven otherwise. Ed
Bill April 27, 2011 at 06:38 PM
Ed, The text amendment has been submitted and is available for public viewing. In fact, it has already been amended once to incorporate comments from the planning commission. Now, the issue is whether the Board of Commissioners accepts the developers proposed amendment. So, we only can go by what is in the text amendment as currently drafted. That is the issue. As currently drafted it gives unfettered authority to the developer without proper limitations. I too hope that the process has checks/balances and therefore they reject the proposal as written (by the developer). There are just too few protections and limitations that would protect the community if this passes. On a procedural level, I look forward to the public hearings and encourage anyone who is interested and available to attend on may 5.
Michele Baum April 27, 2011 at 07:41 PM
As I understand it, the developer's proposal is consistent with USC's long-range plan for mixed-use development within the township. The devil is, of course, in the details, and it is natural to fear the unknown. But I believe the opportunity to improve the tax base and enrich the community should not be overlooked. Why should all commercial development be in neighboring municipalities?
Randy & Dar April 27, 2011 at 07:54 PM
SEE YOU on May 5th at 7:30 PM, USC Community and Recreation Center - 1551 Mayview Road – Community Rooms A, B, & C You can Copy the Petition from http://stopconsolsiterezoning.blogspot.com/ and paste it into Word, then you can print out copies. USC citizens over 18 yrs old can sign one.
Mike April 27, 2011 at 08:00 PM
Things will become much clearer if you review the current zoning of the property and the proposed amendment. The developer is seeking a "hybrid" zoning gathered from several different zones classifications within the community. He is also attempting to do this through an amendment instead of a re-zoning which skips several steps in the process. Most importantly the zoning board which is in place to control this exact type of over developement. The developer cannot do what he wants to with this property if he had to adhere to the general limitations that are in place to protect residents in the immediate vacinity as well as in the general area. Mainly due to the narrowness of the property and the already existant traffic limitation of the area.
USC Resident April 27, 2011 at 08:36 PM
I have to agree with Michele. It's irresponsible for a vocal minority to rally against the potential to increase the tax base in these times of economic difficulty. The township needs to strengthen the tax base and with much of the land in the township already built out, this is a fantastic opportunity. I'm all for it.
Bill April 27, 2011 at 09:22 PM
In response to the USC Resident and Michele a few comments. USC is designed as a residential community. That is what we wanted, that is identified in the long-range plan and that is who we are. The long-range plan also identifies that intersection as the biggest traffic issue in USC. What has been done to remedy that? And, USC has taken steps to build its commercial base. Look at Trader Joe’s and Target. Those are zoned areas and appropriate for those types of stores. The Consol site is NOT. Bethel Park made the decision to develop commercially and they have done so accordingly. It is irresponsible to simply look at this as tax revenue without regard for what is planned. Do we want a methadone clinic because it brings in tax dollars? Do we want a nightclub that close to our schools or at all? As currently proposed, the amendment allows for these things. So, there is inconsistency with what the developer says and what the zoning allows for. Smart zoning with restrictions and protections is one thing. Allowing the developer to take total control from the rest of the community cannot be allowed. He is looking to destroy property value and put big-box stores on the residential side of USC. As to the point about a "vocal minority," that is just wrong. The vast majority of people do not want what is currently being proposed. I hardly think over 200 at a planning commission can be discounted.
d April 28, 2011 at 06:08 PM
Bill: While it may not be a vocal minority, the group that was represented at the previous planning meeting was almost entirely comprised of residents who live in the area contiguous to the proposed development. While I like the idea of further development to off set the increased tax burden we are facing, I too am skeptical and want to retain the essence and integrity of our community. I spoke with the commissioner in my ward and he informed me that the process is far from complete as recent propaganda may lead some residents to believe. No proposals have been submitted and nothing is written in stone or even decided. In fact, according to him the process is in its infancy and has not even been presented to the commissioner which is a requirement for a project of this nature. I too encourage residents to show up at the meeting, ask questions, and make an informed decision for themselves.
Bill April 28, 2011 at 07:55 PM
D: Again, I respectfully disagree. The residents at the planning meeting spanned the entire community and were not just concentrated in that area. Regardless, the fact that this conversation is happening is a good thing. I am concerned by the comments of your commissioner. While it is still very early, and still needs to be brought before the commission, I am not sure "recent propaganda" is the proper phrase. The critical issue is how a zoning change is implemented and adopted. Once that happens, as long as a plan is put in place that meets the zoning, the township is really in a tough spot and is left with little recourse. For example, as proposed, the amendment allows retail in a building up to 75,000 square feet. So, if this is adopted, as long as it is retail (e.g., Walmart, K-Mart, Dollar General, Costco, Sam's Club . . .) the township really can't say no. I think we would all agree that those types of Big Box stores will not retain the essence and integrity of our community. Same goes for the residential. While "upscale" and "empty nester" may be the goal, there is nothing stopping low cost condos from going in to that area which will burden the school and hurt the tax base. And, while the developer may have the very best intentions, there is no guarantee the developer will actually be the one to develop. The value of the property will skyrocket if this zoning is approved and it could be sold to someone who does not share in his "vision."
USC Resident April 29, 2011 at 02:16 AM
Costco in USC - that would be wonderful! Not a joke by the way - this from a person who drives a long distance to Costco. On another note - the correct word in fact is propaganda. I was receiving multiple daily phone calls for more than a week - one call ( made by a hired marketing firm) told me to attend a meeting at the country club, which is kind of laughable. Clearly the group opposing the proposal is extremely well-funded - those four page glossy mailings aren't cheap. Anyway, given D's statements, I'm concerned that too much misinformation is being put out. As a community we cannot continue to build new schools, new recreational facilities, raise taxes annually, and yet turn our back on potential tax revenues. That is simply elitist and irresponsible.
John April 29, 2011 at 02:06 PM
Costco would be great to look at from Washington Road sitting in bumber-to-bumber traffic. Lots of ways to get there from 79? The people at the intersection of Painters Run and McMillan will be so happy. Wonderful gridlock until the taxpayers have to fund widening Ft. Couch. That will be great. A four lane road next to two schools. I wonder how many kids will have to get hit by cars or worse before we realize that is not a good thing. But, people will have their Costco, Walmart or any other generic big box store across from a Target. USC is a residential area. It was designed that way and should remain that way. As for potential tax revenues, that is a red herring argument, but not necessarily true and greedy. There is a tax already being paid on the property and will continue to be paid. Then, when the high rise condos/apartments go in, we will overburden our school even further because those people will not have to pay any property taxes and their income tax will not meet the cost of educating those kids. With additional road maintenance, police and fire costs and all else the township will have to spend to bring in those "tax revenues" we will all be much worse off. And by the way, the developer picked the location of that meeting. So we can agree. That is laughable.
ed henry April 30, 2011 at 11:57 PM
It's hard to follow the logic that states 'USC is residential, it was designed that way and should stay that way'. Washington road, north of the church, is a series of inconsistent (and mostly outdated) strip malls and the building sitting on the property in question was the home of a corporate office. Whether or not we like or agree with it, has been planned (at least during the past few decades) to include a mix of residential, retail and commercial uses. I completely understand the density, traffic and safety concerns and think the proposal needs to be put through a rigorous and open review process. I also think that it's a planning mistake to add another strip mall (or a Costco-like store) to an area where there are already many vacant storefronts. Having said that, it's frustrating that the South Hills is no longer the location of choice for high end retail in the Pittsburgh area. It's clear that the issue has already stirred up a lot of emotional responses from the community. I haven't formed an opinion on the proposal yet because I'd prefer to hear more from the developer and the commissioners first and then weigh the facts. I just hope that those who have already formed a strong opinion one way or another can allow the process to run its course in a professional and respectful manner.
Very Concerned May 05, 2011 at 04:33 AM
@ D, "I spoke with the commissioner in my ward and he informed me that the process is far from complete as recent propaganda may lead some residents to believe. No proposals have been submitted and nothing is written in stone or even decided. In fact, according to him the process is in its infancy and has not even been presented to the commissioner which is a requirement for a project of this nature." Unfortunately I have to wonder if your Commissioner also happens to be the same Commissioner who is employed by Mr. Cipriani (the Developer).
Very Concerned May 05, 2011 at 04:40 AM
@ USC Resident, FYI..."those four page glossy mailings" were done by Sprawl-Busters who are a national organization that helps communities with these types of fights....they do great work....you should check them out, www.sprawl-busters.com.
d May 05, 2011 at 01:07 PM
Very Concerned: In your post you intimated that one of our commissioners has a conflict of interest that may prevent him from doing the job that he was elected to do. I would be most interested in knowing the name of that person.

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