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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Judge James Rules Again

Sharpsburg Legion in parking pickle over handicapped lot

Another boneheaded ruling by same the judge who ruled in the Calvary lawsuit - DDW+

By Mary Ann Thomas
Thursday, October 7, 2010

American Legion members are hopeful they can keep a handicapped parking lot at Post 106 in Sharpsburg despite a judge's ruling they have to remove it.

Gary Salitrik of Shaler, the secretary treasurer of the Legion on North Canal Street, hopes town leaders appeal.

"They're the ones who gave us permission to build it," he said. "We did everything they told us to do. Now we've got to rip it out."

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge M. Joseph James ruled last month that the Legion had to remove the parking lot it installed two years ago after residents at nearby Heinz Terrace sued saying the lot was illegal and unsafe.

Attorney Stephen Farino said his clients "think that the judge made the correct decision. And they feel it's for the safety of their neighborhood."

Sharpsburg solicitor Michael Witherel said he would advise council not to pursue an appeal.

"This is a matter between the Legion and the property owners on the street," he said.

During a 2008 meeting, Sharpsburg council approved the construction of the 20-foot-by-70-foot parking lot, with work beginning the next day.

Residents contend that cars parked in the lot have to drive over a public sidewalk where children walk and play.

Legion members and officials claim the handicapped parking spaces provided in the five-car parking lot are essential for disabled veterans who visit the club.

The residents appealed council's decision to allow the lot. The judge's ruling on Sept. 17 states that the lot plan violated the town's ordinances by creating a driveway "in excess of 25 feet and it doesn't comply with (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements."

Legion leadership is looking at what an appeal would cost.

The lot, which includes a deck and a new handicap-accessible entrance, cost about $25,000 to build, Salitrik said.

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