Aspinwall Council – Regular Meeting Recap 2-10-2021 – Council Votes “Yes” to Conditional Use at 313 Freeport Road

The Regular Borough Meeting last night brought debate and resulted in anticipated improvements to one larger building at 313 Freeport Road. While the hearing on the 313 Freeport property permeated the majority of the meeting and will be largely covered by this post, updates for all portions of the Borough were made including Aspinwall’s Police Department which are covered near the end of this post.

Visual Provided by: Google Maps, “313 Freeport Rd.” (accessed 2/11/2021).

Council along with its Solicitor spoke with Dr. Ghassan Bejjani of RGP Aspinwall LLC about his proposed plans for the building at 313 Freeport Road and his application for the Conditional Use of a Multi-Family Dwelling Accessory to a Commercial Structure. RGP Aspinwall LLC intends to add four apartments to the space within the next two years and has submitted an application with the Borough.

Currently, Aspinwall Gymnastic Center operates on and off in this building (a product of the Covid-19 Pandemic) and the commercial space on the first floor of the building remains vacant. Dr. Bejjani hopes to renovate a portion of the building and market four new apartments in that space to “high end” tenants. The proposed apartments would be built in addition to the space used by the Gymnastic Center and the commercial space on the first floor. The prime concerns brought up by Council and the public relating to this space involved garbage removal and storage, adequate parking, and the aesthetics of the outside of the building.

According to Dr. Bejjani, he has agreed to lease three parking spaces (in addition to the five that he already has for the apartments) from the Borough of Aspinwall to meet the parking requirements for the apartments. This lease would bring the amount of parking spaces to eight to fulfill the minimum required spaces for the apartments. The Aspinwall Ordinance allows off-street parking within 600 feet of the business, indicated Aspinwall Solicitor Steve Korbel. Dr. Bejjani additionally would provide additional removal of trash from the building if circumstances require it.

As a condition of his approval of the requested application, Dr. Bejjani has agreed to paint the exterior of the building, install new windows on the exterior of the building, lease three parking spaces from the Borough of Aspinwall, renovate the interior of the building, allow the Borough to inspect during the renovation process, and return to the Borough should he intend to make use (or a differing use) of the commercial portion of the building. Under the Agreement, construction must begin within one year of the Borough’s decision. Occupancy will not be issued for the apartments until the improvements are made.

Dr. Bejjani did note that he has been making efforts to improve the building. He indicated that he recently installed a nearly $10,000.00 awning.

Council was provided three options, (1) to table the decision, (2) to approve the request, or (3) to deny the request. Council moved to approve the Motion and the request for Conditional Use was granted by a nearly unanimous Council.

In addition to the hearing on Conditional Use, all Councilpersons submitted reports on their respective committees. Chief of Aspinwall Police, David Nemec, reported that all officers had recently undergone diversity training and that he hoped to incorporate more trainings into the department this upcoming year. Two officers have resigned the past year. However, a new officer’s employment and employment agreement were approved during the meeting on Motion of Councilperson Marcia Cooper.

Councilperson Dave Brown will take the lead on considering an ordinance banning “Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons” from asphalt paving. A presentation on these potentially cancerous substances was made during last weeks administrative meeting.

This was a jam packed meeting. The highlights and biggest changes are noted above. Other topics discussed can also be reviewed in the Meeting Minutes from this meeting which will be approve next month. Council President Tim McLaughlin will have a update on Freeport Road Safety Improvements next month.

Blog By: Mary Hancock

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