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Planning Commission Supports Zoning Change for RMU Hotel

The university purchased the hotel in 2011 and uses it for student housing.

The has recommened that the township amend a zoning ordinance to at the Pittsburgh Airport Holiday Inn on University Boulevard, where is lodging students.

Planning commissioners have expressed support for the measure but have not taken action on the request. 

The Moon-based university purchased the 10-story hotel for $10 million in 2011 and uses the first three floors of the building as student housing. The rest of the facility, including overnight rooms and banquet spaces, is operated under the Holiday Inn brand. 

The university is that the township change its zoning ordinance to allow for student housing on University Boulevard, which would enable RMU to use the building as a dormitory. 

The township now considers the students who live at the hotel to be guests, said Moon Planning Director Adam McGurk. 

McGurk said University Boulevard is now zoned as a highway/commercial area, where dormitories are not permitted. 

If the hotel is converted into student housing, the non-profit RMU may be able to file for a partial tax excemption on the property. At an accessed value of more than $7 million, the building contributes $22,000 in municipal taxes and more than $145,000 in school taxes, according to county property records. 

It is unclear whether RMU plans to use the facility exclusively as a dorm in the future. 

"We knew eventually (RMU) did want to convert the building for student housing," McGurk said. "But I'm not sure what their long-range plans are." 

McGurk said the planning commission expressed support for RMU's request, but said township officials could place restrictions on the zoning change. 

The zoning amendment would allow for student housing on any property on University Boulevard. 

"Essentially, if they permitted (the zoning amendment) it would apply to any property along University Boulevard," McGurk said. "They can't limit (the zoning change) to just the Holiday Inn property, but they can add language to limit it. They might require a minimum lot area for student housing." 

The planning commission functions only as an advisory board—RMU must present the plan for final approval before the township's Board of Supervisors. 

Correction: An original version of this post did not include the fact that planning commission members have not taken official action on Robert Morris University's request. Commissioners have expressed support on the measure but not yet made an official recommendation.

 

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