University Building Project Moving Forward

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SCRANTON -- A Lackawanna County judge cleared the way Friday for the University of Scranton to knock down a building and build a new one.

The judge sided with the university after it sued the city zoning board for turning down a permit the school needed for construction.

In a 22-page decision a judge approved the University of Scranton's permit requests, and he also had some harsh words for the city's zoning board.

The University of Scranton's request was approved for permits to begin tearing down Leahy Hall and build a brand new building in its place. University officials say they're pleased with what they call the right decision.

"I feel that it is. I think the decision of the court was very well considered and I'm very grateful to the court for their decision," said University of Scranton attorney Patrick Lavelle.

The project was put on hold earlier this summer when Scranton's zoning board said the new building would make the intersection less safe for drivers and pedestrians, and denied permits for the project.

The judge disagreed saying, "no person testified in opposition to the university's variance request, nor was any competent evidence of adverse traffic effects introduced during the hearing."

Students at the "U" say they're excited to see the brand new, eight-story building that will house the university's rehabilitation program.

"I think it's a good idea, the fact that they always want to expand their buildings and create new learning environments for the students.  It's always, like, something different," said junior Michael Maguire.

This decision which now allows the University of Scranton to tear down Leahy Hall and build a larger, bigger, and brand new one in its place is something that is exciting some downtown businesses.

"They're developing a much larger building which is going to bring more students, which in turn affects us because we get a lot more parents through our building and our business, so I think it's a good thing for us," said Matt Drace of Lavish Body & Home.

The city will also benefit from the project, collecting about $900,000 in permit fees, making some in Scranton wonder why zoning board officials held it up in the first place.

"I think if you have the opportunity to improve, you should. Why wouldn't you? Why would you stop a good thing?" asked Kacie Killeen

We attempted to contact numerous zoning board members and other city officials for comment and have not heard back.

The university hopes to have the construction completed by the fall of 2015.