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HERMITAGE City denies permit requested to rebuild house razed in 2000



Published: Fri, January 11, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The city says the property hasn't been used as a residential site for more than four years.

HERMITAGE, Pa. -- The city has denied a building permit for the rebuilding of an East State Street house it razed Nov. 6, 2000.

Raymond Stacey of Niles, the son of Andrew and Helen Stacey, filed a request for a building permit last October, seeking permission to rebuild the house to the same dimensions even though it is in a central commercial district where residential properties aren't allowed.

Stacey cited a section of the city's zoning regulations that says a nonconforming building destroyed by any means may be reconstructed and used as before, provided that reconstruction starts within one year.

The city tore down Helen Stacey's house at 1560 E. State St. after a three-year legal battle over the structure's fate.

Ordered to vacate: The city had ordered Helen and her husband, who has since died, to vacate the house after a June 1997 rainstorm washed away a portion of the basement wall.

The city declared the one-story brick building unsafe for human habitation and said the Staceys failed to make necessary repairs to the structure.

Since the city tore the house down Nov. 6, 2000, an application seeking to rebuild filed before Nov. 6, 2001, should be acceptable, Raymond Stacey said.

City's ruling: The city has a different interpretation of that clause.

City Manager Gary Hinkson said Thomas Kuster, city solicitor, has ruled that the one-year time frame doesn't start from the time of demolition but from the time it was last used as a residence.

That would have been June 1997, some 41/2 years ago, far longer than the one year allowed by zoning regulations, Kuster ruled.

The Staceys continue a legal fight over the demolition of the house through the state appeals court system.




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