A pair of new development plans were approved at Latrobe City Council’s meeting on Monday, which are set to bring an O’Reilly Auto Parts store and nine new multi-family homes into town.

The 7,200-square-foot auto parts store is set to replace the former site of the shuttered Laurel Education Center at 17 Lloyd Ave., which was sold by Westmoreland County Community College to Scottsdale, Arizona-based SimonCRE in January for $410,000.

Project engineer Ryan Stroup of Warrendale-based MDM Surveyors and Engineer said plans call for 27 parking spaces, with two rows of parking each along Lloyd Avenue and behind the store. He said access will be available from Chambers Street, with two proposed driveways in the front and rear of the store.

Stroup said grading across the site was a main challenge for developers, as there is a 5-foot drop between Chambers Street and an alley opposite to it.

“In order to help remedy that, we are proposing to the mill and overlay the alley to kind of bring that up a little bit and help with those challenges,” he said, “to allow for better flow in and out of the site.”

Stroup said O’Reilly Auto Parts stores “typically have 30 parking stalls to run this type of building. We wouldn’t want to reduce that more than it already is… But if we need to make some changes, we are happy to look into it.”

Peter Krahenbuhl of developer SimonCRE said O’Reilly stores require parking in the front of the building. He said O’Reilly also requires that truck deliveries can take place in the alley.

He added that O’Reilly stores typically make deliveries once a week.

The store will employ nine to 12 people, Stroup estimated. Construction is slated to begin as early as April depending on weather, Krahenbuhl added.

“We will be reducing the amount of impervious surface in the area,” Stroup said, adding that plans show an additional 44 feet of lawn area in the rear of the store. “Also, along the frontage on Lloyd Avenue, that is going to be proposed to be a landscaped area. Ultimately, it’s a less impervious area than what is currently on the site.”

Mayor Rosie Wolford said, “That is the gateway to the downtown, so I just was hoping there would be something green there.”

Council on Monday also approved a land development agreement for nonprofit Homes Build Hope to build nine low-income, multi-family residential homes along Mary Street.

In June 2017, developers presented original plans to council that called for about double the number of units that were approved on Monday. However, Kristin Zaccaria, Homes Build Hope executive director, said, “We did downsize the project from 18 units to nine and added more green space in.”

The homes that will be constructed through this project will be similar to the homes that were built by Homes Build Hope on Lloyd Avenue back in 2005.

About 13 dilapidated structures were demolished to make room for three triplexes, with three units per building, Zaccaria said.

The project was funded by Westmoreland County HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME) funds under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

She estimated the total costs to complete this project are around $2.1 million.

She said the dilapidated homes were acquired and demolished through collaboration with the Westmoreland County Land Bank and Redevelopment Authority.

She added that the nonprofit twice applied for tax credits through Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency but were unsuccessful, so “we made the scope of the project smaller by about half.”

“We had to go back to council because we redesigned the layout of the project,” she told the Bulletin. “...We added some more green space in there just to give it a more open feel, and less concentrated.”

Zaccaria said Export-based Guardian Construction is contracted to do a design-build for this project.

“This is really exciting,” Wolford told Homes Build Hope representatives at Monday’s meeting. “Thank you so much for what you guys do. You’ve really transformed that corridor into our downtown.”

In other business, council tentatively plans for trick-or-treating to take place in Latrobe from 4 to 6 p.m. on Halloween, Oct. 31. Officials noted the parade will likely not take place.

Also at the meeting, council heard from resident Joan Engelhardt who said “dog-walkers are in Legion-Keener Park… every night. There’s dozens of them... Is there anything ever going to be done by this?”

Council has previously noted that no pets are permitted at Legion-Keener, although they are allowed along Creekside Park, Lincoln Avenue Trails or downtown, where pet waste stations are available.

Wolford instructed residents to call 911 to report these incidents in order for police to be dispatched, accordingly.

City Manager Michael Gray said Chief John Sleasman and Latrobe Police Department officers “know that they can enforce (these) actions under chapter 219” of the city’s code that prohibits pets at Legion-Keener.

Council also tabled a resolution to approve an agreement with Mutual Aid to provide custodial blood draws. Solicitor John Greiner said an agreement has not yet been finalized and more information will be provided to council at its next agenda meeting.

Council also approved a resolution for an agreement to exonerate taxes for a mobile home at 32 East Monroe St.

Greiner said the city filed for a code violation against both the owner of the lot and mobile home.

“The owner of the mobile home has agreed to remove the (home),” Greiner said. “It’s in poor condition; It’s uninhabitable.”

Greiner explained that an agreement between the city, Westmoreland County and Greater Latrobe School district must be finalized so that once the mobile home is removed, then the taxes will be exonerated.

“If they do not agree, (the owner) does not have clearance to remove the mobile home,” he said.

The exoneration will cost the city about $1,200.

Council member Eric Bartels said, “We don’t want this to be a precedent.” Added Greiner: “I’ll be happy to express that sentiment to anyone that approaches me about future exoneration requests.”

Council also approved on Monday:

  • An amendment to remove the unnecessary references to the dissolved Latrobe Parking Authority from the city’s code;
  • Approving a resolution to add regular, unreserved permit parking passes at the top level of the city’s parking garage for a $15 monthly fee;
  • A resolution approving a contract with Scenic Pittsburgh to act as a consultant for a zoning ordinance analysis;
  • Appointing Ed Kubicek to the city’s planning commission and Jim Burkey to zoning hearing board for a terms expiring Jan. 31, 2021;
  • A resolution approving cooperation agreement with Westmoreland County for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program that went into effect in 2002.

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