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Council OK’s Penalties for Zoning Violators

Coffee shop, Pennzoil requests also approved

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
November 09, 2021
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport City Council has approved an ordinance that will allow violators of zoning and planning rules to be cited in criminal court.

At the November meeting, council by 7-0 vote amended the city’s zoning and planning ordinance to allow someone convicted of violations to be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine upon conviction by a magistrate.

City Solicitor J. Jason Elash said McKeesport’s zoning ordinance previously allowed violators to be cited with a criminal offense, but the language was dropped during a comprehensive update done in 2017.

Without the criminal penalties, the city is limited to seeking action through civil court, including fining violators and filing liens against their properties, he said.

“It means we’re going downtown to file in (Allegheny County Court), instead of simply being able to cite someone and take them to the magistrate,” Elash said.

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said the ordinance is intended to help the city move more quickly against neighborhood nuisances, including people operating noisy or disruptive businesses from their homes without obtaining the proper consent.

“That's becoming a very common problem,” he said. “We want every business in town — we welcome you — but we need to make sure people are doing things the right way.”

In addition to civil penalties, Cherepko said, the city will take criminal action if necessary against “businesses that are unregistered, opening up in residential neighborhoods, and causing problems for residents.”

In other business, council approved a reverse subdivision request from the operator of the Pennzoil Tire Lube Express at the corner of East Fifth Avenue and Hartman Street to turn six lots near his business into a single lot.

The affected property, located along Hartman Street, may be used for parking or additional expansion of the business, Cherepko said.

Council also granted a conditional use request to Chelsea McKeithen of Pirl Street to open a coffee shop inside the Executive Building, Downtown.

Jason Togyer is editor of The Tube City Almanac and volunteer executive director of Tube City Community Media Inc. He may be reached at

Originally published November 09, 2021.

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