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Mt. Lebanon High School project moves forward

The Mt. Lebanon High School project is back on track after getting preliminary approval Tuesday night from the municipal planning board.

It was the second time the planning board, which reviews development proposals to ensure they meet Mt. Lebanon’s zoning codes and regulations, voted on the controversial $113.3 million renovation project.

The planning board had given its preliminary approval in September, on the condition that the school district win an appeal in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court allowing the school to have fewer parking spaces than the zoning code prescribed.

When the appeal was denied in October, the district had to start seeking approval again — this time addressing the parking problem by entering a shared-parking agreement for 40 spaces in a nearby municipal lot.

“Tonight’s submission should resolve those issues,” school Superintendent Timothy Steinhauer said. “The shared-parking agreement brings the total number of spaces to 542, which is well over the 528 (required spaces) indicated by the municipality.”

The planning board’s preliminary approval is not the final step for the project. It needs to get the planning board’s final recommendation, a public hearing and a vote from the municipal commissioners on whether to accept the planning board’s recommendation. The school district’s architect is finishing the construction plans, Steinhauer said.

Residents opposed to the scale of the high school project questioned whether the school district had addressed all the site’s traffic and safety issues, and whether the shared-parking agreement gives the building as many spaces as it needs.

Attorney Richard Kelly, representing residents who stood against the school board in the zoning appeal, said the school’s stadium alone should require 1,400 parking spaces, as should the rest of the school on the occasions when the gym, classrooms and auditorium are all being used.

“There are too many people in this audience and in this community who have had trouble parking on that property,” resident Bill Lewis said.

The municipal solicitor, however, said the stadium wouldn’t count toward the parking review because it won’t change during the renovations, and the school had done studies to justify needing fewer spaces.

The project will return to the planning board for final approval in December, Steinhauer said.


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