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Planning Commission Meeting Could Be Critical

Posted by Elwin Green on September 27, 2017 at 12:45 AM

A meeting of the City's Planning Commision this afternoon could be a critical turning point for a mixed-income housing development being planned for Homewood.

 

The proposed 58-unit development, dubbed Kelly-Hamilton, has been winding its way through the pre-construction process for more than a year. But sustained opposition to the development may cause the developer, Keith B. Key Enterprises (usually referred to as "KBK") to miss deadlines to apply for Pennsylvania Housing Finance Authority tax credits that would be critical to the project's financing.


The opposition has mostly come from the Homewood Concerned Citizens Council, a group of Homewood residents headed by Cherylie Fuller. Fuller lives on Hamilton Avenue, close to where the new homes would be built.

 

Fuller and HCCC made the news when they protested at the May 4 groundbreaking for the project. The Post-Gazette's story about the event includes this:

 

“Talk to us,” said Cherylie Fuller. “Sit down with us. We don’t want what they’re ramming down our throat.”

 

The most recent expression of opposition came at the Planning Commission's Sept. 12 meeting (the Commission meets every two weeks), where it is reported that Fuller and Judith Ginyard spoke against the project.

 

What's especially interesting is that the Commission has a 1 pm briefing, which is off the record, and a 2 pm meeting during which the public may comment. According to my source, Fuller and Ginyard spoke during the briefing.


(EDIT, 9-27-17: Please note my friend Ann Belser's comment befow, and my response."

 

Fuller's plea - or demand - to "sit down with us" is, on the face of it, perplexing.

 

According to Jerome Jackson, executive director of Operation Better Block, KBK has attended at least four meetings of OBB's community clusters, as well as OBB monthly community meetings, and at least three HCCC meetings.

 

I don't know whether or not he's counting the November public meeting hosted by HCCC, at which Mr. Keys gave a detailed presentation on the project.

 

This raises the obvious question, "What does a developer have to do to gain community support?"

 

It also suggests a less obvious question, "Whose support does a developer need in order for them, or anyone, to say that they have community support?"

 

The project is supported by the Homewood Community Development Collaborative, an affiliation of Homewood-based non-profits that includes 

 

  • Building United of Southwestern Pennsylvania
  • Community Empowerment Association
  • Homewood-Brushton Business Association
  • Homewood-Brushton YMCA
  • Homewood-Brushton YWCA
  • Homewood Children's Village
  • Operation Better Block
  • Race Street 2050 (formerly Save Race Street Committee)

 

Fuller's group, HCCC, was a founding member of the Collaborative, but withdrew in January.

 

Members of the Collaborative spoke in favor of the project at a meeting of the Urban Redevelopment Authority on January 12. And we (I am president of Race Street 2050) will be at the Commission meeting this afternoon.

 

It should be interesting.

 

There's a lot more to this story; stay tuned for Part 2.

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2 Comments

Reply Ann Belser
8:48 PM on September 26, 2017 
Elwin, I got to the Planning Board during the briefing and they weren't there. Cherylie and Judith did not speak while I was there, and appeared to come in after I got there. The 1 p.m. briefing is only "off the record" in the sense there is no transcript made, but you can sit and listen. I do all the time.

There is, from that meeting, going to be a new High Wall sign where the Roots Sports sign is on the Northside for some AT&T sports show. Root used to be FoxSports Pittsburgh and is now becoming some AT&T thing.
Reply Elwin Green
1:50 PM on September 27, 2017 
Ann - Hm. I'll have to circle back to my sources to get more clarity on that. Thanks for the heads up!

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In October 2005, after a bullet came through his living room window, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Elwin Green began writing "My Homewood," the first blog on the P-G's website. For 4 1/2 years, "My Homewood" shared stories of tragedy and beauty, of perplexity and hope - stories that live again in "The Homewood Chronicles."

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