Friday, March 18, 2016

Public Hearing at City Council on the Rezoning of the Park and Penn Plaza Sites

Public Hearing at City Council on the Rezoning of the Park and Penn Plaza Sites
·        There is a public hearing on Tuesday, March 22nd in City Council chambers (5th Floor, 414 Grant Street aka the City-County Building, Downtown Pittsburgh). This hearing is for the rezoning of the park and the Penn Plaza site from residential districts to a mixed-use commercial district. PLEASE come to make our voices heard at City Council. 

Sign-up to speak at the hearing here:

The hearing is for Bills Number 2015-2300 and 2016-0033 for Enright Parklet. If you do not sign-up to speak, you will have one minute of time. If you sign-up, you will have 3 minutes (same as at Planning Commission)

Here are some key points to think about for preparing comments or writing to voice your opposition to the rezoning as proposed:

  • The second community meeting on the project was disappointing. LG Realty offered no specific plans for the overall project that contained any specific details as to building sizes, shapes or uses. The community repeatedly requested more information since the project first came to light in October. The "diagram" of potential green space was essentially identical to the plan submitted in October. The neighborhood gets a small green space; the developer gets a profit-driven "festival street" and an increased building footprint on the rest of the park. You can see more on the Facebook page here.
  • This lack of information about building form and uses stands in stark contrast to what we have seen provided to the Lawrenceville community by the Milhaus interests or, indeed, in any PLDP (Preliminary Land Development Plan) for recent projects that can be found posted on the web: Bakery Square, the Strip produce yards, and the Lower Hill. Why is Council being asked to approve a zone change with so little solid planning work behind it?
  • The zoning code requires that City Council receive a PLDP as a condition for considering a change of zoning to AP Planned Unit Development, as is the case with Enright Park and Penn Plaza. When we asked the Planning Director what would be submitted to Council (of the sketchy diagrams shown at Tuesday’s meeting) and when the submittal to Council would be available for public review, he indicated that he would get back to the community with this information. We have no further information, and we have nothing to provide comment on.
  • As a result, we believe that at both the hearing and at any subsequent Council vote in the near future, no meaningful project plan or plan for the future of Enright Park or the Penn Plaza development site will be made available to either the public or Council members. For this reason, we are asking that City Council either postpone action on this matter until such a plan is available or vote against the rezoning. 
East Liberty needs and deserves a master plan for this critical site that is both a gateway and a bridge between several communities. Until a plan has been developed in collaboration with the community, and properly vetted, there can be no rezoning of these properties. Our message is that City property is not for sale, that public parks are not meant to serve developers' interests, and that development in our neighborhoods has to be driven by the people who live in them, not by outside interests who look to profit from public lands.


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