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Allegheny W. Civic Council, Inc. v. Zoning Board of Adjustment

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

June 18, 2014

The Allegheny West Civic Council, Inc. and John DeSantis, Appellants
v.
Zoning Board of Adjustment of City of Pittsburgh and City of Pittsburgh, Griffin Family Limited Partnership, and All Stop Parking, LLC

Argued April 22, 2014

Page 451

Joel P. Aaronson, Pittsburgh, for Appellants.

David J. Montgomery, Pittsburgh, for Appellees Griffin Family Limited Partnership and All Stop Parking, LLC.

BEFORE: HONORABLE RENÉE COHN JUBELIRER, Judge, HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge, HONORABLE JAMES GARDNER COLINS, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 452

MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, Judge

The Allegheny West Civic Council, Inc.[1] and John DeSantis (collectively, Objectors) appeal an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County (trial court) that affirmed a decision of the Zoning Board of Adjustment of the City of Pittsburgh. Specifically, the Zoning Board held that the North Side Commercial Parking Area Overlay District did not prohibit a plan by Griffin Family Limited Partnership and All Stop Parking, LLC (collectively, Landowners) to use an existing parking lot for special events parking. Accordingly, Landowners did not need a variance to pursue their plan. Objectors contend that the trial court erred because the only issue raised in Landowners' appeal was whether they were entitled to a variance. We affirm the trial court.

Griffin Family Limited Partnership owns and operates Blackwood Supply Co. Inc., a wholesale building supply store, located at 1231 Western Avenue in Pittsburgh. The property consists of a warehouse, an office and a 52-space outdoor parking lot. The property is located in the North Side Commercial Parking Area Overlay District (Overlay District). Blackwood entered into an agreement with All Stop Parking to use its parking lot for parking on nights and weekends, when the business is closed, for events at Heinz Field. To that end, Landowners filed an occupancy permit application with the Zoning Administrator.

The Zoning Administrator denied the permit for the stated reason that commercial event parking was not permitted in the Overlay District by reason of Section 907.03.B of the Zoning Code.[2] The Zoning Administrator advised Landowners that they needed a variance to pursue their plan. In accordance with the Zoning Administrator's instruction, Landowners appealed the Zoning Administrator's decision and requested a variance.

At the hearing before the Zoning Board, Landowners presented evidence about the existing parking lot and how it is used in Blackwood's business. Dan Griffin, a Blackwood shareholder, offered his view that demand for parking at stadium events is great and results in excessive on-street parking. He believed that permitting more parking in the Overlay District would relieve congestion caused by stadium events and would generate additional tax revenue for the City.

DeSantis, an Objector in his own right and as a representative of the Allegheny West Civic Council, testified in opposition to Landowners' plan. He opined that the purpose of the Overlay District was to eliminate stadium event parking in North

Page 453

Side neighborhoods and encourage those attending events at the stadium to park in downtown garages built by the taxpayers. He contended that a variance for event parking would directly violate Section 907.03.B of the Zoning Code. Section 907.03 states as follows:

907.03. NSCPO, North Side Commercial Parking Area Overlay District.
907.03.A Intent
The intent of the NSCPO District is to prohibit the installation of commercial parking areas as defined under ...

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