South Strabane views the Church Administration Building near Enterprise Road | Local News

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The Greek Orthodox metropolis of Pittsburgh would like to relocate to South Strabane Township by constructing a new administration building off Enterprise Road.

The organization had acquired two plots there more than a year ago and had recently requested a land use exception from the township for the 18-acre property which is zoned residential.

The township held a public hearing last week to hear preliminary plans for the proposed building, which would sit on the first parcel between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Interstate 79. The second parcel, which, as requested, would be used for parking, sits just south of the first, on land formerly used for mining waste.

During the virtual audience, the Reverend George Callos, Chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh, explained why they wanted to leave Pittsburgh and the purpose of the building. He said the diocesan headquarters has been in Pittsburgh for 66 years, but it also serves congregations in West Virginia and Ohio.

“We have outgrown this facility,” he said.

Callos said they searched in vain for a larger building in the city, as the current building did not have enough space for their 35-member council to meet. They wanted an easier place to gather for business meetings without the hassle of parking in town. One of their parishioners donated the two plots in South Strabane to the diocese, Callos said.

“From time to time there will be church services, but this facility will not replace a parish community,” Callos said. “Our primary focus is administrative and supporting the work of our parish communities.”

The building would most often be used as office space for six to 10 people, he said, with regular meetings of 10 to 15 people. When the full board meets, he said there were about 35 people present.

Neighbors would only see large crowds at the facility once or twice a year, he said, on certain holidays or feast days, during which they would have between 100 and 200 people.

The preliminary building plan includes a presbytery, which Callos says is traditionally provided for every bishop within the religion.

One of the main concerns expressed by the zoning board was the potential hazards and pollution that could be caused if the parcel containing the mining waste was disturbed.

Dan Sharek, a civil engineer with the Red Swing Group who represented the project, told the hearing that although they did not perform metal tests on the materials that once covered the roughly 9-acre plot, they had a geotechnical study carried out. Sharek said the material consists of “a lot of stone, gravel and iron ore mixed in there”.

“My understanding is that this is material that has been mined and determined not to be useful,” he said. “Our intention would be to encapsulate it.”

Sharek suggested that if they installed a stormwater management system on the first parcel where the building is proposed, there might be less potential for pollution from mining waste.

The Zoning Hearing Board is expected to issue a land use decision on June 2. From there, the applicant would go to the township planning commission for land development plans.

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