Posted by: Patricia Salkin | June 14, 2020

PA Appeal Court Upholds Approval of Subdivision Plan

This post was authored by Matthew Loescher, Esq.

East Ohio Capital owned parcels located at 706-712 Cedar Avenue in the City of Pittsburgh’s East Allegheny neighborhood that were improved with single-family residential buildings and are zoned R1A-VH (Residential Single Family – Very High Density). A local organization, the Northside Leadership Council (“NLC”), owned the parcels located at 406-410 East Ohio Street that were improved with two, three-story commercial buildings and were zoned Local Neighborhood Commercial (“LNC”). The plan at issue proposed to consolidate and subdivide these eight lots into five lots, with a 5.6-foot strip of land from one of the R1A-VH properties being incorporated into the rear of the LNC property at 406-410 East Ohio Street. In this case, objectors Chris Gates and Stephen Pascal appealed from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, which affirmed the City of Pittsburgh Planning Commission’s approval of East Ohio Capital LLC’s proposed lot consolidation and subdivision plan.

On appeal, the objectors argued the plan qualified as a major subdivision plan pursuant to Section 4.14 of the Subdivision Regulations because it proposed to consolidate properties that were located in the Historic District, and were thus “Sites of Special Interest.” Contrary to Objectors’ contention, the Subdivision Regulations did not involve new construction that created 10 or more lots, did not subdivide more than 500,000 square feet of land, and did not subdivide within a “Site of Special Interest.”. As such, the Plan was not a major subdivision. Additionally, pursuant to Sections 3.0 and 3.1 of the Subdivision Regulations, a minor subdivision requires the filing of an application with the Zoning Administrator, the submission of a sketch plat, and a final subdivision plan. Here, while Objectors argued East Ohio Capital did not file an application with the Zoning Administrator, the record reflected that East Ohio Capital filed its plan with the Zoning Administrator – as he testified as to its submission and review by City staff, resulting in its recommended approval.

Next, Objectors contended that East Ohio Capital did not meet the criteria for the Plan’s approval because it did not establish: “the public use or interests to be served by the Plan; how the Plan would enhance the “Pittsburgh Character” of the neighborhood; or what the impacts would be on the public health, safety and general welfare of the neighborhood.” The court found that in approving the Plan, the Commission implicitly credited East Ohio Capital’s evidence and rejected Objectors’ contrary evidence. Furthermore, Ohio Capital’s evidence supported the Commission’s determination as it showed that the Plan would not cause a negative impact on the neighborhood where the Plan allowed for the rehabilitation of the dilapidated and nuisance properties. Accordingly, the court did not find any error or abuse of discretion in the Commission’s approval of the Plan.

 Gates v City of Pittsburgh Planning Commission, 2020 WL 3125309 (PA Comwlth 6/12/2020)


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