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Family Dollar decides to look for new site in Herminie

A North Carolina-based chain of discount stores is no longer interested in a vacant piece of property in Herminie that has been the subject of a Westmoreland County court battle over the past two years, the company said last week.

Family Dollar is not interested in opening a store on a parcel owned by Jonathan Turik of Herminie, who won a zoning battle last month to have the 0.86-acre parcel on Highland Avenue rezoned to a community commercial classification, from a rural village designation.

“We are interested in opening a Family Dollar store in Herminie at another location in the future, and we look forward to partnering with the community on this project at a later date,” Bryn R. Winburn, public and media relations manager for Family Dollar of Charlotte, N.C., said in an email statement.

Family Dollar did not reveal the other piece of property in Herminie it is considering for a store, nor did it say whether the two-year court battle over the zoning of the property played a factor in its decision to look at other sites.

Family Dollar’s continued interest in opening a store in Herminie comes at a time when the discount store chain is the subject of an $8.5 billion buyout offer from one of its competitors, Dollar Tree Inc. Another discount store chain, Dollar General, has offered $9.1 billion for Family Dollar, but Family Dollar has rejected that proposal.

Herminie has not had a discount store since Bill’s Dandy Dollar on Sewickley Avenue closed about three years ago. A proposed site plan prepared in February 2012 for Turik’s property adjacent to the Sewickley Township Recreation Center showed a 7,647-square-foot store, with 23 parking spaces.

Turik won the right to have his property rezoned when Westmoreland County Judge David A. Regoli ruled on Oct. 22 that the Sewickley Township Zoning Hearing Board erred on June 26, 2013, when it overruled the Sewickley Township Supervisors’ approval of Turik’s request to rezone his Highland Avenue property. Rezoning Turik’s property from a rural village classification to a community commercial district was not a case of improper spot zoning because there was no evidence that the property was singled out for treatment different than similar land in that area, the judge stated.

Turik declined to comment on the case and said he had not heard from Family Dollar regarding the company’s interest in another location in Herminie for a store.

The zoning hearing board said the supervisors erred in approving the rezoning request in October 2012, but followed proper procedure in making the decision.

Neighboring property owners, Tracy and David Hampshire of Herminie, had contended in a November 2012 lawsuit that the township supervisors’ decision constituted spot zoning and the process for approving it was flawed.

The judge stated that the Hampshires did not offer any testimony that addressed the issue of spot zoning. Instead, the Hampshires questioned the potential for increased traffic and school bus issues, as well as water runoff and asbestos.

The judge’s decision, “enables the township to develop and create business,” said Sewickley Township Supervisor Wanda Layman, who joined fellow supervisor Alan Fossi in voting in October 2012 to approve Turik’s rezoning request. Supervisor Joseph Kerber opposed it.

“The whole point is to generate business into our community,” Layman said.

The zoning board and the Hampshires have 30 days from when they were notified of the ruling, to appeal the judge’s decision, said Daniel Hewitt, Sewickley Township solicitor.

Tracy Hampshire declined to comment on whether she intends to appeal the court ruling.

Charles Wade, solicitor for the Sewickley zoning hearing board, said he doubts the zoning board will file an appeal. Peter Cherellia, chairman of the zoning hearing board, could not be reached for comment.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at [email protected] or 724-836-5252.


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