Petition Formed in Opposition of Senior Housing Project

June 20, 2023

WARREN, Pa. – With a petition of more than 250 signatures, some Warren residents are making a push to halt the construction of a senior housing center at the vacant corner lot at the corner of Liberty St. and Pennsylvania Ave. before it gets started.

At Monday’s Warren City Council meeting, Phil Caudill, who along with his wife Denise own Bent Run Brewing Company, presented the petition to City Council.

The construction staging area is slated to be the parking lot (lot 7882) adjacent to Bent Run and Allegheny Outfitters and was the subject of a discussion suggested by some members of the council.

“We’re kind of speaking for a larger group,” said Caudill of the petition, which was started last Friday. Caudill also clarified that the 250 signatures weren’t all necessarily residents of the City of Warren and that he wasn’t sure of the exact number, but all are patrons of Bent Run. “On Thursday I heard the rumor that there were only a few of us concerned with our businesses and how it affects the city. We’ve got about 10 full sheets of signatures from citizens and visitors that are opposed to this project in this location and the harm it’s going to do.”

Those opposed aren’t necessarily opposed to the project itself, but rather the location in what is considered prime real estate in the city.

Kelley Coey of the Hudson Group, the project developer, said changing locations wasn’t an option.

“We would not,” Coey said when posed the question of changing the location. “We have purchased this lot and financing is based on this lot. We will proceed once the Section 106 process is complete.”

A Section 106 review requires agencies to consider the effects on historic properties of projects according to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. It gives interested parties and the public the chance to weigh in before a final decision is made.

Mayor Dave Wortman noted that the purpose of Monday’s discussion was strictly for discussion on the potential staging area, but that they were aware of the community’s concerns.

“It’s a delicate situation in terms of balance between existing business and construction that is being discussed this evening,” he said.

Coey said that she had reached out to business owners, including the Caudills as well as Allegheny Outfitters owner Piper VanOrd.

“I have reached out to several business owners to see if there were any concerns and got no response,” Coey said. “I got no conversation with them about any concerns on construction staging. The lease has been signed. We asked the city long ago for sites, or other sites for construction staging and this was presented to us.”

Both Caudill and VanOrd confirmed that Coey did reach out.

“She did reach out, but at that time, it was a done deal,” Caudill said. “We did respond, but not with questions or comments, we didn’t have any for her, it was more for council.”

There is no set date for the completion of the Section 106 review, but it is expected to be completed at some point this summer.

“If we could continue to be updated on the progress of the Section 106 review so that we are adequately able to speak on where the project is, that would be great,” said Councilman Jared Villella.

Coey said that she would continue to keep the council apprised of the Section 106 review.

Councilwoman Wendy McCain made a motion to rescind the lease agreement to “honor our citizens and businesses,” but it was brought up by Council Vice President John Wortman that since it was already voted on, legally that is not allowed.

“Votes cannot be rescinded,” John Wortman said. “To my knowledge, this lease has already been executed and a motion cannot be made to rescind it for parliamentary purposes.”

Wortman’s statement was confirmed by City Solicitor Andrea Stapleford.

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