It’s time to act on the old county office building

September 15, 2013

We think it’s time the Waynesburg Zoning Hearing Board steps up and makes a decision on plans to renovate the old county office building on High Street and approve the variances for the required number of parking spaces.

This $2.5 million project, spearheaded by John McNay, the owner of the building, and Martin Padezanin of George Construction of Coraopolis, promises to enhance the neighborhood and its surrounding area. It will rehabilitate the structure, add to the tax base and create more foot traffic. Nothing to complain about there, right?

But last week, and for the second time, the zoning hearing board continued a hearing to request additional information.

The issue, it seems, is parking. The zoning ordinance requires an apartment building with 28 units to have at least 42 parking spaces.

The site has space for only five parking spaces and for the remaining 37 the developers propose to sublease spaces in the borough parking lot on Strawberry Alley, which is now leased to the county.

But at the hearing, the county stated through a letter that it had agreed to sublease 37 spaces in the lot with the conditions the renovations are completed, an occupancy permit is issued, an acceptable sublease is negotiated and the spaces be made available to the county from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for jurors called for jury duty, which occurs at least four times a year.

The borough’s zoning ordinance also apparently has a requirement for landscaping a parking lot.

Padezanin maintains some landscaping could be done, but probably not to the ordinance’s specifications because of the limited space being subleased in the lot and will probably seek a variance.

Oh, what a shame it would be if the plans to convert the old county building into a revenue-generating apartment building are denied because a parking lot lacked few bushes.

Adding to the frustration is Waynesburg University, which has asked that the variances be denied, noting the developers failed to provide a sublease agreement with the county or documents indicating the borough has agreed to the arrangement. The university contends the use of the building for apartments conflicts with the borough’s master plan, which was prepared by the university and accepted by council and calls for the old county office building to be demolished and the lot developed for parking.

But just when it looked like the development had tumbled into a deep, dark abyss, never to be resurrected again, there came a voice of reason from County Commissioner Blair Zimmerman, who was mayor of Waynesburg until January.

He noted the master plan the university is hanging its hat on was prepared by the university’s architect, but was never accepted by council or by the mayor.

Zimmerman also said the parking situation in the area would be much better if employees of contractors working for the university and university students didn’t park in the county’s lot.

He said the commissioners had met with the developers and have a “gentlemen’s agreement” with them to lease the parking spaces “at cost” once the building is rehabilitated and an occupancy permit issued.

After Zimmerman spoke it seemed the problem was solved and the project would be given approval to proceed.

Boy, were we wrong. The foot-dragging continues.



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