HERMITAGE Owner battles with city over rebuilding razed home

Stacey said he's trying to comply with a zoning regulation that says reconstruction must begin within one year.
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- Raymond Stacey of Niles hasn't received a permit yet to rebuild his mother's East State Street house but he's moved some building materials and a trailer onto the site.
Stacey and his mother, Helen, who now lives in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, have been battling with the city since June 1997, when officials forced Helen and her late husband, Andrew, to vacate their house after a basement wall was damaged by water during a storm.
The city declared the house had to undergo extensive repairs or be torn down and the Staceys maintained it was structurally sound.
The city won that battle, securing court approval a year ago to raze the one-story brick structure, and tore it down, but the legal fighting over that decision is still in Commonwealth Court.
Seeking permit: Meanwhile, Raymond Stacey asked the city two weeks ago for a building permit to rebuild the house to the exact dimensions of the razed structure, citing a clause in the city's zoning laws that says any non-conforming building destroyed by any means can be reconstructed and used as before, if the reconstruction starts within one year.
The old house didn't meet zoning regulations and the new one won't either, Stacey said, explaining it won't comply with street setback requirements that prevent building right up to the curb.
The old house had no setback on its State Street side and nor will the new one, he said.
The city didn't issue the permit but sent Stacey a letter asking him his intentions for the property.
If he intends to use it for commercial purposes, he will have to submit a land development, storm water management and other design plans, the city said.
Stacey, concerned that the city's delay would push him past the one-year anniversary of the razing of the house which was Wednesday, said he moved a large number of cement blocks and a small camper-style trailer onto the lot Monday to show some construction effort and an intention to use the land for residential purposes to comply with the one-year rebuilding rule.
He said he even dug a trench and laid two cement blocks.

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