Mt. Lebanon rezones Bradley Center site

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Vacant property that once housed the Bradley Center and the DePaul Institute has been rezoned.

Mt. Lebanon commissioners voted Monday to change the designation to R-4 which, among other provisions, allows for multifamily dwellings and limited commercial use. The vote came following three and a half hours of public comments that included objections to rezoning.

Many of the opponents were Brookline residents whose neighborhood abuts the Castlegate Avenue property,  just over the city line in Mt. Lebanon. They cited concerns about safety, traffic and diminishing property values, among other issues, if the property is developed to include multifamily residences.

Commissioners were scheduled to vote on the measure March 24 but tabled it until representatives from potential developers of the property could meet with nearby residents.

The meeting took place last week, with about 65 residents attending. None who live in the immediate area were in favor of the rezoning, said Angela Gaito-Lagnese of Castlegate Avenue.

“We want our neighborhood to remain the way it is now,” she told commissioners.

A request to rezone was submitted to the municipality by Residential Resources Inc. and Green Development Inc., which are considering developing the property, along with Oxford Development. The companies have proposed a four-story, multifamily building for rental by senior citizens, along with town houses for sale.

The property previously had been zoned R-2, which limits residences to single-family, detached homes.

Mt. Lebanon’s most recent comprehensive plan, adopted in October, identifies the 8.17-acre Castlegate Avenue property as a “key site for redevelopment.” The property has been vacant since the Bradley Center, a behavioral health care and child welfare provider, closed its campus there in 2007.

“That’s been an abandoned property for a while, and the thought that it’s going to be taken care of is very appealing,” Commissioner Dave Brumfield said about his supporting the rezoning.

At this point, the municipality has received no definitive plans for developing the site.

In other business Monday:

• Commissioners fielded a barrage of objections to a $1 million artificial turf project on two fields in Mt. Lebanon’s Main Park. In November, commissioners approved designating $750,000 toward the project, with $250,000 to come from privately raised money.

Plans call for bids to go out in mid-May, with the expectation of awarding a contract in July.

Some residents, including many who attended Monday’s meeting oppose the project’s cost and are concerned about the safety and health of participants with regard to the materials used to anchor the turf.

Using organic infill to anchor the turf instead of rubber-based materials is being considered at the request of Commissioner Kelly Fraasch, who voted against designating money toward the project.

The additional cost would be about $500,000 “for the life cycle of the project,” said Dan Deiseroth of municipal engineer Gateway Engineers. The turf is anticipated to come with a guarantee of eight years.

A total of $166,552 has been pledged so far in fundraising efforts for the nonpublic share of $250,000, according to Dave Franklin, a member of the municipal sports advisory board.

• Commissioners said they do not want to pursue a request by Verizon to place a cell tower site on the municipal golf course. A proposed lease would have netted the municipality $10,200 the first year, with a 3 percent payment of that sum each year.

Tom Kelley, public works director, said that with a required 1,500 square feet, the tower would take up a significant amount of space.

“It’s a relatively small footprint. There’s a lot of activity that takes place there,” he told commissioners.

Mr. Brumfield said he has no interest in taking up space for the tower “for a relatively modest bump in the coffers.”

Harry Funk, freelance writer:

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