Time to put up or shut up

August 11, 2013

While it did not necessarily surprise us that the Waynesburg Zoning Hearing Board granted a continuance on plans to renovate the old county office building, what did pique our interest is that a representative from Waynesburg University showed up and asked that the university be granted party status in the case.

That in itself was not so unusual, but what was peculiar was that Raymond J. Hoehler, an attorney for the university, said in a written statement that the university opposed the issuance of a variance because the proposed use of the building did not conform with the borough’s master plan or with requirements of the borough zoning ordinance.

And this is the puzzling part. Apparently, this master plan was prepared in 2008 and had been paid for by the university and prepared by its architect. This plan designates the old county office building space as being a potential parking and event space.

But the question remains whether the borough ever accepted this master plan, and it is our understanding a master plan is not a binding document.

Now, we previously expressed reservations about whether a proposal submitted by John McNay, owner of the building, and Martin Padezanin of George Construction of Coraopolis to convert the long-vacant, six-story building on High Street into a 28-unit apartment building, would ever get off the ground.

The application for a zoning variance failed to include a site plan or an agreement finalizing a plan to provide off-street parking for building occupants.

The property is zoned B-1 for business use. An apartment, or multi-family dwelling, is a permitted use in a B-1 district.

The zoning ordinance requires an apartment building with 28 units to have at least 42 parking spaces. Not enough property exists on site to provide that many spaces.

McNay and Padezanin have proposed leasing available parking spaces in the borough parking lot on Strawberry Street, about a block away, which to us, seems like a plausible idea.

Further complicating the issue is that neither Padezanin nor McNay has received approval from borough council for leasing the parking spaces. In addition, they will have to obtain approval from the county, which currently leases that parking lot from the borough.

If McNay and Padezanin are able to come up with the $2.5 million to renovate the building and are able to obtain the required variances for parking, we would prefer to see that happen to the building rather than see it sit vacant for more years before it falls completely apart.

If Waynesburg University is so interested in the future of that building, why did they wait until now to intervene? They could have approached the borough years ago, about the building and had it razed for “parking and events.”

If the university wants it, make an offer. In other words, put up or shut up.



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