Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Council Says No to Expanding Historic District

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Council Says No to Expanding Historic District

Article excerpt

In a preliminary vote Wednesday, Pittsburgh City Council opposed a controversial measure to expand the Mexican War Streets historic district after several North Side residents who lived in the proposed expansion area voiced strong disapproval.

The proposal would extend the boundaries of the district north and bring with it an 18-page set of rules and regulations governing how new buildings are constructed and the materials and aesthetics of certain kinds of renovations.

Following a charged public hearing on Monday that lasted nearly three hours, eight council members voted no, while president Darlene Harris abstained. Council takes a final vote next Tuesday, and the vote tally is not likely to change.

The proposal generated an emotional debate, pitting neighbors on opposite sides of the current boundary against each other. Petitions reflected that most residents who would be affected by the expansion did not want it, while most of those currently within the district did. That was the final straw for Councilman Daniel Lavelle, who represents the neighborhood.

"At the end of the day, despite my personal feelings on the matter on what I believe is best, I have to listen to the constituency," he said.

Supporters of the measure said it would preserve the neighborhood's historic feel. A comprehensive plan drafted by a community organization called for an extension of the historic district because it found that's what drew in new residents.

"There was a long community planning process that made several different findings on what were the strengths of the neighborhood, what attracted people to the neighborhood and what would help the neighborhood continue to grow," said Kirk Burkley, a property owner who applied for the expansion. "One of those ... was the historic nature of the neighborhood."

It also would guard against unsightly development, supporters said at Monday's public hearing. …

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