Cranberry board will decide Sewickley appeals

Friday, January 11, 2019 | 6:03 AM

Sewickley property owners who believe the Pennsylvania Construction Code Act has been incorrectly interpreted will now have their appeals heard by a board in Cranberry.

When Sewickley left the Quaker Valley Council of Governments (QVCOG) at the end of the year, the borough lost its membership in the organization’s construction code appeals board.

Sewickley council approved an ordinance to use the services of Cranberry Township’s Uniform Construction Code (UCC) appeals board at a Jan. 8 meeting.

Mandated by state law, UCC boards allow a property owner to appeal a building code official’s decision and seek a variance or time extension for construction projects.

According to Sewickley solicitor Richard Tucker, Sewickley and Cranberry have entered into an intergovernmental cooperation agreement. Sewickley, he said, will not incur a cost to use Cranberry’s board, aside from court-reporting fees.

Sewickley officials discussed the agreement last month, and interim borough manager Dick Hadley noted the borough has had only four UCC appeals in the past 10 years.

Although the decision was unanimous, Councilman Sean Figley said he would like to eventually consider the borough having their own board.

“I think it’s great in the short term, but I think having people from Sewickley on this board hearing Sewickley things would probably be better than having someone from outside,” Figley said.

Callery and Zelienople also use Cranberry’s appeals board, according to the township’s website. Sewickley council President Jeff Neff said state construction code is spelled out, and even an outside appeals board will “have to follow what’s in the book, either way.”

In other council news:

  • Council discussed last month’s ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of House of Couture Designs, 507 Beaver St. Mayor Brian Jeffe said there have been almost 60 ribbon cuttings in the borough over the past six years.
  • A Jan. 9 planning commission hearing to address the merger of the 550 Hopkins St. and 601 Hill St. lots has been rescheduled.

Residents have voiced concerns about a steep driveway on the Hopkins Street property they say poses safety risks. The driveway leads to a house on 601 Hill St.

A planning commission hearing must take place before council can determine if the contractor, Minas LLC, must return the property to its original state. The hearing was scheduled for Feb. 6.

Sam Bojarski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.