Judge deflates tent at Shadyside B&B

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The Mansions at Maple Heights Bed and Breakfast cannot claim its tent as an accessory use, according to a recent decision in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

The decision confirmed last year’s Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment decision that the tent, which is used for parties and catered events, figured in 74 percent of the revenue the mansion realized in 2012 from catered events. These events occurred 78 times between 2010 and 2012 and drew up to 11,700 guests, while the bed and breakfast recorded 2,372 guests and has five rooms.

The Shadyside site, 5516 Maple Heights Road, is owned by former Steelers lineman Chukky Okobi. Two nearby residents legally challenged the use of the tent in 2011, citing late night noise and traffic tie-ups. The board’s ruling dealt with the zoning legality of whether the tent constitutes an accessory, or subordinate, use to the B&B.

The board’s 2011 decision was reversed on appeal in Common Pleas Court, and attorneys for plaintiffs Patricia Lemer and Drew Elste appealed that decision to Commonwealth Court. That court sent it back to the zoning board to consider more evidence.

The board again decided against Mr. Okobi, whose attorneys filed another appeal.

In his recent decision, Judge Joseph James wrote that the board was correct, that although the tent is “subordinate in area it is not subordinate in extent and purpose,” and that functions the tent is used for are not dependent upon the bed and breakfast.


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