Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chuck Half wrote in an email that landed here:

Thank you for expressing your opposition today to a Special Exception being granted by the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) for a social club with liquor license at 2214 E. Carson Street. Clearly, the will of South Side property owners, residents, businesses, and community organizations is to be granted a reasonable legal voice in zoning and permitting business options in the South Side. The ZBA will be making a decision based upon its very limited sphere of influence within 30-days.

Mayor Ravenstahl has supported this specific concern since March 2009 when he instructed the Law Department to defend any court action challenging the City’s 2007 Ordinance limiting the number of liquor licenses in a Pittsburgh Local Neighborhood Commercial (LNC) Zoning District. His agreement to support your wishes evolved from lessons learned during 15 meetings of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee for the South Side (MACSS).

In mid-March 2011, PA’s Commonwealth Court upheld the decision by Allegheny County’s Court of Common Pleas reaffirming the unlawfulness of City of Pittsburgh’s “liquor saturation” ordinance. The ordinance was judged to be “an infringement upon the power of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). The Pennsylvania Liquor Code vests the PLCB with exclusive power to control and regulate the business of dispensing liquor in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. By limiting the number of restaurants with bars in the area surrounding East Carson Street, Defendants [Planning Department and City Permitting Process] are impermissibly seeking to regulate the business of dispensing liquor in the areas so designated in the ordinance.”

Does the PLCB have too much power and impact in determining the balance of businesses in our South Side neighborhood? What do you want? Should the PA state government be operating wines and spirits stores in our neighborhoods? Should a robot kiosk be selling you wine in a grocery store? Should you be able to purchase beer, wine, and liquor in a single location? Should a South Side neighborhood improvement district (NID) be allowed to assess each restaurant with bar a fee based upon occupancy, or gross revenues, to pay for additional police protection, parking enforcement, and neighborhood cleanliness? Are any of these questions inter-connected?

Mayor Ravenstahl has requested, and the City’s Law department has agreed, to carry forth an argument of appeal of this anti-South Side decision to the PA Supreme Court. Until an appeal is officially filed by the City, however, any zoning applications and permits for restaurants with bars to the East Carson Street LNC can not be delayed. When the appeal is submitted, and until a PA Supreme Court determination is made, the liquor saturation ordinance will, again, be temporarily in effect. If the lawyer side of you is interested, go to

Chuck Half

South Side Comminity Representative, and City Performance Manager - PittMAPS

Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl

512 City-County Building, 414 Grant Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

412.255.0819 -office

412.287.2650 - mobile

I did NOT go to the public hearing nor make comment about this issue.

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