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Update:  Proposed Increase to Residential Noise Standards

submitted by Norm Cleary, October 28, 2015

Dear Neighbors,

The City Planning Commission heard testimony from Schenley Farms neighbors opposed to the proposed increase in allowable noise amendments to the Zoning Code.  Special thanks to Deb Walko and Christina Schmidlapp for testifying at the hearing and Michael Vanyukov and Melissa McSwigan for their written testimony.  We were assisted by testimony from Architect Rob Pfaffmann and Wanda Wilson, Executive Director of OPDC.  A copy of my testimony is attached for your information.

The commissioners struggled with these changes to the Zoning Code.  My three minutes of technical testimony was mostly insufficient to aid with their understanding.  Their confusion was evident by their deliberation discussions.  But the good news is that they did understand that this change would have allowed double the ambient noise loudness in the city’s residential neighborhoods.  The bad news is they approved the new language, with noise level amendments, for consideration by City Council.

What does this mean?

Even with minor amendments to specific allowable noise levels, what the Commission approved is bad legislation.  City Planning has conflated nuisance noise (frat keggers and garage bands, for example) with mechanical systems and auxiliary power generator noise from commercial and institutional buildings.  With the assistance of Councilman Gilman we may have an opportunity to amend the language before it is presented to City Council for a vote.   Rob Pfaffmann and I have been “drafted” to meet with City Planning in an attempt to repair this section of Zoning Code.  Our first meeting has been scheduled for November 13th.  I will keep you advised of our progress.

As with our tiny neighborhood’s extensive work on Oakland Master Planning issues, this represents a substantial effort.  But properly crafted Zoning Code will be beneficial to Schenley Farms in controlling the impact of new building development in close proximity to the Schenley Farms Historic District.

You can see my testimony here:  Norm's testimony concerning Noise Amendment to zoning code, October 27, 2015    

Best regards,
Norm

Norman Cleary
President
Schenley Farms Civic Association
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Proposed Increase to Residential Noise Standards

When: Tuesday October 27, 2015 @ 2:00 p.m.
Where: John P. Robin Civic Building, 1st Floor
200 Ross Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Dear neighbors,
The City Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to the Residential Compatibility and Operational Performance sections of the Zoning Code.  (See Noise & Construction Amendments, attached.)

Why this is important:

The proposed changes to Zoning Code Section 916.06 would increase acceptable nighttime noise emissions, measured at your property line, from 45 dB(A) to 55 dB(A).  Acceptable daytime noise would increase from the current 55 dB(A) maximum to 65 dB(A).  917.02 would increase permitted nighttime noise emissions, measured at the emitting property line, from 55 to 60 dB(A).

For some perspective, consider that typical urban nighttime noise is 40-45 dB(A) depending on nearby traffic noise.  45 dB(A) is considered to induce some sleep disturbance with open windows.  55 dB(A) is a serious annoyance level and impediment to sleep.  And for further reference, heavy traffic at a distance of 300 feet would typically generate a noise level of 60 dB(A).  By proposing these changes the city seems to be advocating one or all of the following:

  • Continuous use of conditioned air…
  • Use of earplugs when fresh air is desired while sleeping…
  • A sleep deprived urban population.


My tongue is only loosely stuck in my cheek. 

In September, City Council approved ill-advised changes to Zoning Code Section 601.04.  These new proposed changes are intended to “standardize” all noise sections of Zoning Code.  I would characterize this as being from the “two wrongs don’t make a right” department.

If you have concerns about noise impact on our neighborhood, I urge you to offer testimony at Tuesday’s hearing.

Best regards,

Norm 

Noise & Construction amendments

Norman Cleary
President
Schenley Farms Civic Association

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Fairfield Lane Fall Clean Up
Who:  Residents along Fairfield lane or other interested neighbors
When:  Saturday October 24, Starting at 8:30 A.M.
Where:  Fairfield Lane (Bigelow Boulevard gate will be open.)


Fairfield Lane is in need of our attention.  Jim Franzen has been kind enough to organize the Fall Clean Up.  He has provided the following information:

As in the past, about 20 students will be joining us from the PittMakeA DiffernceDay (PMADD) neighborhood assistance program. Some of us will be starting 8:30AM; the PMADD students will be here at 10:00; we will end after lunch. 

Each of us will (should) bring whatever tools we have: clippers, rakes, brooms, saws and trash bags and smiles. (Bring extras if you have them, so that we’ll have enough to equip our helper-students.) As in the past we will have a good time, the more the merrier. Part of the good time will be sharing lunch together: pizza, greens, salad, cookies, coffee and colas. A donation basket will be on the provisions table at the foot of the steps which lead down from our property (4212 Centre Ave.) to the Lane. 

Some number of you have been active throughout the year, making clean-up a sort of on-going effort. Thanks from all of us to you who've done such good work.

All Parkman Avenue properties, bordering the Lane, extend midway across Fairfield Lane.  Hopefully, you can participate.  If not, a donation to the worker’s lunch fund would be appreciated.  
Please contact Jim as soon as possible to confirm your participation. 

j.franzen@verizon.net
Home: (412) 681-4094
Mobile: (412) 760-7807

Schenley Farms Civic Association

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PAA-Hotel HRC Hearing UPDATE
submitted by Norm Cleary, June 7, 2015

The Board would like to thank our neighbors who attended the PAA Hotel Pre-HRC Hearing meeting last Monday.  For those of you who missed it, Josh Lavrinc of Callay Capital provided an overview of the revised hotel plan and Rob Dauer offered some insight into the PAA’s plans moving forward.  A “spirited” discussion followed including comments from Councilman Dan Gilman.

Neighbors, representing twenty two Schenley Farms households, voted their position on the revised plan before the HRC:
(11) OPPOSED
(10) IN FAVOR
(1)  ABSTENTION

Considering our Board’s tied vote and the member vote we concluded that, without a clear mandate from the neighborhood, SFCA should not take a position at the HRC Hearing.  Our HRC Hearing testimony is attached:  SFCA HRC Hearing Testimony June 3, 2015

 After taking much testimony on Wednesday, the Historic Review Commission voted 2-2—a tie!  Acting Chair, Ernie Hogan was quoted as saying “I didn’t see that one coming”.  The City is currently engaging in procedural efforts to vote again in 30 days and break the tie.  We’ll keep you advised.

Thanks to all who have contributed your opinions and to Schenley Farmers who testified at the HRC Hearing.

Best regards,

Norm

Norman Cleary
President


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PAA-Hotel HRC Hearing UPDATE
submitted by Norm Cleary, June 7, 2015

The Board would like to thank our neighbors who attended the PAA Hotel Pre-HRC Hearing meeting last Monday.  For those of you who missed it, Josh Lavrinc of Callay Capital provided an overview of the revised hotel plan and Rob Dauer offered some insight into the PAA’s plans moving forward.  A “spirited” discussion followed including comments from Councilman Dan Gilman.

Neighbors, representing twenty two Schenley Farms households, voted their position on the revised plan before the HRC:

(11) OPPOSED
(10) IN FAVOR
(1)  ABSTENTION

Considering our Board’s tied vote and the member vote we concluded that, without a clear mandate from the neighborhood, SFCA should not take a position at the HRC Hearing.  Our HRC Hearing testimony is attached:  SFCA HRC Hearing Testimony June 3, 2015

After taking much testimony on Wednesday, the Historic Review Commission voted 2-2—a tie!  Acting Chair, Ernie Hogan was quoted as saying “I didn’t see that one coming”.  The City is currently engaging in procedural efforts to vote again in 30 days and break the tie.  We’ll keep you advised.
Thanks to all who have contributed your opinions and to Schenley Farmers who testified at the HRC Hearing.
Best regards,
Norm

Norman Cleary
President
Schenley Farms Civic Association
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PAA-Hotel April 1 HRC Hearing Postponed

At our March 18th meeting,  28 of our neighbors voted to oppose the PAA hotel development as proposed, with 1 vote in favor.  SFCA has communicated our objections to the developer and the city.  We were notified by Councilman Gilman’s office last night that the PAA and Oakland Fifth Avenue Hotel Associates LP had withdrawn their application from Wednesday’s April 1 HRC agenda.  They intend to submit a modified plan for the HRC Hearing on May 6th.  (Mark your calendars.)  That gives them until April 17th to develop a revised plan that, at the very least, complies with the new construction guidelines for the Oakland Civic Center Historic District.

The councilman has requested that SFCA meet with OFAHA representatives on Wednesday to help define design objectives for their plan revision effort.  We intend to focus on a careful review of the guidelines, Schenley Farms Company historic documents, zoning code and your comments and concerns voiced at the meeting.  A draft of the meeting minutes (not yet approved by the board) is attached (see below).  Additional comments are welcome and should be e-mailed to the Schenley Farms Civic Association schenleyfarms@gmail.com by noon on Tuesday.

This year’s Annual Membership Meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday April 29th at 7:00 p.m.  A formal notification, with the particulars, will be sent to you shortly.  The revised hotel development plan will be on the agenda for review with you before the HRC Hearing.  Please mark your calendar.

On behalf of the entire board, I want to express appreciation to our neighbors for your thoughtful input and commitment to the preservation of the Oakland Civic Center Historic District and the SF neighborhood.

 Thank you,
 Norm

SFCA Board Meeting Minutes, March 18, 2015
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Annual Meeting of Schenley Farms Civic Association
When:  Wednesday, April 29, Refreshments at 7:00 P.M.  Meeting starts at 7:30 P.M.
Where:  Twentieth Century Club Lecture Room (Parkman and Bigelow)

SPECIAL GUESTS:
MAYOR BILL PEDUTO   
COUNCILMAN DAN GILMAN 
NEW POLICE ZONE 4 COMMANDER DANIEL HERRMANN 
POLICE COMMUNITY RESOURCE OFFICER SHANNON LESHEN 

AGENDA ITEMS:

Election of 3 candidates to the Board of Directors
Schenley High School Apartment Conversion City Planning Commission Approved Plan (Construction Begins!) 
Proposal for Hotel Adjacent to Pittsburgh Athletic Association (Parking Lot)  
UPMC Master Plan (Approved!)
Schenley Place Construction Progress Update
Parking and Traffic Issues
New Development in North Oakland
Wayfinding Street Signage Initiative
New Neighbors Introductions 
SFCA Communications: HOW TO STAY INFORMED, HOW TO BE INVOLVED!
New Business

Please RSVP to Schenley Farms Civic Association schenleyfarms@gmail.com
-- 
Schenley Farms Civic Association
www.schenleyfarms.org

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UPMC Master Plan City Council Hearings
submitted by the SFCA Board, February 6, 2015

Dear neighbors,

You already know that the Schenley Farms Civic Association, in cooperation with Councilman Dan Gilman, has taken a lead role in the community’s response to UPMC’s Oakland Campus Master Plan.  The net result of multiple meetings with UPMC and a community meeting held on December 9, 2014 is a final version of the Master Plan that better informs the community of the potential impact of UPMC’s ongoing Oakland facilities evolution.  The revised Master Plan addresses a 10 and 25 year planning envelope and provides information of benefit to Schenley Farms and all Oakland residents.

Councilman Gilman has advised us that the UPMC Master Plan Hearing before City Council has been scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 26 at 1:30 p.m. This is a public hearing and anyone who wishes to offer concerns or objections will have the opportunity to address Council.  A preliminary vote will be taken on March 4, and a final vote on March 10.

For your calendar:

Public Hearing, Thursday, Feb. 26 at 1:30 p.m in City Council Chambers, 5th Floor, City-County Building.  UPMC will make a brief presentation.  If you wish to comment, you will have the opportunity to speak to Council for three minutes, but you must register by calling the City Clerk at 412-255-2138.  If you don’t register, you will be limited to testimony of one minute.   
City Council meeting of Standing Committees, Wed., March 4 at 10 a.m. Council will discuss the Master Plan and take a preliminary vote.  You may speak for three minutes at the beginning of the session during the “Public Comment” period.  There is no need to register. 
City Council Legislative Session, Tuesday, March 10 at 10 a.m.  Council will take a final vote.  If you wish to speak, the procedure is the same as for March 4 above.

You can find the UPMC Master Plan online at http://www.upmc.com/locations/hospitals/presbyterian/Documents/oakland-master-plan-2014.pdf

If you have questions, contact the Schenley Farms Civic Association at schenleyfarms@gmail.com

Schenley Farms Civic Association
Board of Directors

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