By Paul Peirce, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, December 5, 2008
Twelve Murrysville residents say in a lawsuit that council erred last month when it approved a developer's plans to build a two-story, 22,455-square-foot medical office building along Old Route 22.
In the lawsuit filed in Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court, the residents complain that council ignored its zoning rules Nov. 5 when it voted 5-2 to permit construction of the Murrysville Commons Professional building.
Plans are to build the combination of medical and professional offices on 2.2 acres of land between Beverly Court and Evergreen Drive.
"Murrysville Council neglected to enforce the 100-foot setback requirement of the zoning ordinance. The setback is mandated when the proposed land uses generate more than 300 trips per day, according to the Trip Generation, Institute of Transportation Engineers," the eight-page lawsuit states.
"According to undisputed evidence contained in the record, the project is estimated to generate in excess of 423 daily trips," it states.
The lawsuit contends that the zoning ordinance prohibits business or professional offices that exceed 5,000 square feet in the mixed-use district.
The lawsuit was filed by Gregory L. Taddonio, a Pittsburgh lawyer with Reed Smith LLP, who was among a group of residents objecting to the project during public hearings in the summer and fall.
Murrysville Chief Administrator John Barrett said council was aware a lawsuit was being prepared.
"I don't think it's appropriate right now to comment on it. We'll have to see how it plays out in court," he said.
He added that the majority of council "felt comfortable" with its decision.
With its approval, council did stipulate that a tree must be removed from the site to give motorists better sight distance looking on to Old William Penn Highway from Beverly Court, and no tenants in the complex are permitted to occupy more than 5,000 square feet.
However, the lawsuit alleges that council "abused its discretion" when it granted the developer a conditional use to reduce the mandated 80-foot building setback from neighboring properties by 50 percent.
The lawsuit says the project will change the character of the district.
"... The decision is not supported by substantial evidence as required by (the zoning ordinance) because the grant of a conditional use did not take into account the location and size of the use, the nature and intensity of the operations involved" and the convenient routes of pedestrian traffic, particularly children, as required by the Murrysville Code.
The civil lawsuit, assigned to Judge Daniel Ackerman, asks the judge to reverse council's decision and rescind any building permit issued for the project.
The space is targeted for Dr. Mark Rubino, an obstetrician and gynecologist, who is moving his office from Monroeville, and other medical and professional tenants. Rubino is a partner in Murrysville Medical Commons L.L.C., according to county property records.