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Oakland Planning and Development Corporation v. City of Pittsburgh Planning Commission

Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania

January 9, 2015

Oakland Planning and Development Corporation, Appellant
The City of Pittsburgh Planning Commission and Oakland Portal Partners, L.P

Argued November 10, 2014

Appealed from No. SA 13-000493. Common Pleas Court of the County of Allegheny. Judge James, J.

Lawrence H. Baumiller, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

William R. Sittig, Jr., Pittsburgh, for appellee Oakland Portal Partners, L.P.



Page 874


Oakland Planning and Development Corporation (Appellant), an owner of rental property on Robinson Street, appeals from the February 25, 2014 order of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas (trial court), affirming the decision of the City of Pittsburgh (City) Planning Commission (Planning Commission) that approved

Page 875

Oakland Portal Partners, L.P.'s (Oakland Portal) project development plan application. We affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

Oakland Portal owns an approximately 3.68-acre parcel of land (Property) located in the Oakland Public Realm Zoning District. The Property is bounded to the north by Fifth Avenue and to the south by Forbes Avenue, with the southern edge of the Property bounded by the Boulevard of the Allies. Oakland Portal filed an application for approval to construct a nine-story office building with four stories of parking below the building on the Property with the zoning administrator. The Planning Commission reviewed the application and held two hearings on March 5, 2013, and April 16, 2013. (Trial court op. at 1.)

The zoning administrator submitted a written development review report to the Planning Commission, which states her findings of fact as follows:

1. An application for [the project development plan] has been filed by TKA [A]rchitects on behalf of Oakland Portal Partners, LP for the new construction of a nine-story office building (at the 5th Avenue elevation) with four stories of integral parking below this elevation. The future building uses may include restaurant (limited) or retail space.
2. The application also includes a private driveway for the site and construction of signalized intersection at 5th and Robinson Street. The design of the intersection has been reviewed and approved by Patrick Roberts, City Planning Transportation Planner, and Amanda Purcell, City Traffic Engineer.
3. The applicant is working with the Transportation Planner on a plan with Carnegie Mellon University and Traffic21 for monitoring movement and data counts at the new signalized intersection at Fifth Avenue and Robinson Street. The goals are of this [sic] include summary reporting for pre- and post- conditions; analysis of enforcement measures; and public sharing of data.
4. The application also includes wider site work, which includes pads for future building " B" (office and parking) and building " C" (for office, hotel, and parking). The future buildings for the site will require design review and Planning Commission approval; however the special exceptions and variances have been given for the height and setbacks of all the proposed structures.
5. The project went before the Zoning Board last year . . . for issues related to height and setbacks. The project received a variance and special exception for height (as per [City of Pittsburgh Zoning Code (Zoning Code)] section 908.03.D.4.f[, Zoning Code, § 908.03.D.4.f]) and variances for reduced setbacks (as per [Zoning Code] section 908.03.D.4.c[, Zoning Code, § 908.03.D.4.c]) for all of the proposed building sites on this lot.
6. Per [Zoning Code] [s]ection 922.10.E.2[, Zoning Code, § 922.10.E.2]; all new construction, demolition, changes of use, interior renovations creating additional units, and exterior alterations in excess of $50,000 in the Oakland Public Realm district are each required to be reviewed and approved as a Project Development Plan. The Commission bases its decision on the criteria that are outlined below:

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a. The proposal must maintain and continue the existing retail patterns;
b. The proposal must address compatibility with existing residential areas;
c. The proposal must make provision for adequate parking, transit and loading;
d. The proposal must address traffic impacts in relation to capacity, intersection, and traffic volumes and address alternatives that would enable traffic to be directed away from residential districts[; ]
e. The proposal must address pedestrian traffic, circulation and patterns, and pedestrian safety;
f. The proposal must address access to public transportation facilities;
g. The proposal must address the preservation of historic and preservation significant [sic] existing buildings;
h. The proposal must address architectural relationships with surrounding buildings;
i. The proposal must address microclimate effects;
j. The proposal must be sensitive to views and view corridors;
k. The proposal must address the location, development and functions of open space; and [sic]
l. The proposal must address compatibility and conformance with any overall master plans or comprehensive plans;
m. The proposal must adequately address the large building footprint criteria if applicable.
6. [sic] The proposed construction was reviewed by the Contextual Design Advisory Panel on July 31st, 2012. . . . Staff requests that the sidewalk abutting building B be a minimum of eight feet. Staff is continuing to work with the applicant on the design and understands that the design may continue to evolve based on Planning Commission's comments. We ...

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