Aspinwall Council passes ordinance to regulate outdoor commercial operations in the borough

The Aspinwall Council passed an ordinance in October. 12 All outdoor commercial, commercial and trade activities in the borough are prohibited from 10:30 pm to 7 am Sunday to Thursday and midnight to 7 am Friday and Saturday.

The vote was 5-2, with council President Tim McLaughlin and Councilwoman Mary Hancock dissenting.

The ordinance has been under discussion for several months, and the idea came about in negotiations with the Borough Planning Commission about two years ago. That discussion focused on regulations to reduce noise and lead times. Negotiations at the parliamentary level began heating up about eight months ago.

In light of feedback from multiple businesses, the city council has added a rule that allows businesses to obtain special permits to remain open for special events outside of set hours.

“It’s been a long process,” said council vice-chairman David Boland. “I’m not sure what the normal time frame for passing the ordinance is, but the first discussion was in February. I believe we gave people enough time to comment for and against and to think that this (there is) neighborhood for outdoor activities ( stop) for a reasonable time.”

McLaughlin said he supported a law that would allow businesses to “reduce transactions” but opposed forcing them to move everything indoors.

“There has to be a certain amount of time to ask people to lower the volume. I think it’s fair. Letting them in for no reason, I don’t think it’s the best use. I think everyone else has given thoughtful consideration. We have a good Council. That’s something I haven’t seen like anyone else.”

Borough officials and residents have called the proposal a “business hours” measure, but borough documents recently described it as a “business hours” ordinance.

Boland said police will enforce the ordinance. He declined to speculate on special patrols in the business district at 10.30pm and after midnight.

“It’s a reasonable expectation to have an objective measure of when you can and should be quiet, within earshot of a business district,” said Assemblyman Jeff Harris. “After 10:30 p.m. someone can call, businesses need Responsible for noise and that sort of thing. That’s the spirit of it. As more and more businesses come into town and businesses grow, they kind of know what they’re working on here. That should be done by the previous council. It It doesn’t start with what’s implied here.”

Sheri Rice, owner of Luke and Mike’s Frontporch, has said at previous meetings she believes the ordinance is targeting her business.

She did not speak at parliament in October. 12, but after the vote, reiterated earlier comments that her restaurant was singled out.

“I think the weapon is designed for a business,” she said. “There’s an outdoor restaurant here.”

The decree states that it applies to “all outdoor commercial, commercial and trade activities within the borough’s business district.”

Council members have said in past meetings that no one has been singled out.

Rice said she does not expect the ordinance to affect her business.

“I’ve been following it all summer out of courtesy,” Rice said. “I know I’m close to my neighbors, so out of courtesy, I didn’t go past these hours all summer without any laws. It’s been a very slow year…I’m really sick of hearing it … I’m just going to move on and handle my business.”

Borough officials have had numerous discussions on the ordinance and contacted businesses several times throughout the year for comment.

Rice had proposed at the council’s October workshop to delay the start of the overnight ban by half an hour to 11pm Sunday to Thursday and 12:30am Friday and Saturday.

Hancock said she thinks the city council agreed with Rice’s proposal. However, there were no changes in the ordinance first published by the city council in September.

“The ordinance presented today is not proposed, it was agreed within hours,” she said. “If everyone could agree on the timing, it would be the perfect time for people to shut down. It sounds like everyone is in agreement, and that’s not the final vote tonight.”

She also cited a petition signed by nearly 200 residents who opposed the ordinance.

Resident Steve Kochanovsky said he and several others distributed a petition opposing the proposal to residents and businesses starting Sept. 1. October 28 to October 10.

“I’m worried if they’re going to try to do that, is another thing going to happen and they say residents can’t be on their porches after midnight on Saturday night?” he said. “It’s a slippery slope.

“These businesses are just coming back from Covid and getting rid of all these issues and staffing issues. Now you’re adding something else to it.”

Kochanowski said he brought the petition to the borough office by Oct. 10. 12 Council meetings.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, or via Twitter .

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