Neighbors of Mt. Lebanon's popular Hitchhiker Brewing Co. have filed a lawsuit against the business, alleging the taproom has failed to monitor the noise levels and behavior of patrons, resulting in diminished property value and emotional distress for community members.
The plaintiffs, a couple who live adjacent to the taproom, are also suing the municipality of Mt. Lebanon for allegedly failing to protect the private property rights of residents, allowing Hitchhiker to skirt permit rules and failing to conduct necessary inspections on the property.
According to the lawsuit, Hitchhiker Brewing opened its Mt. Lebanon location in 2016, where it operated its microbrewery and taproom. The brewing operations moved to Sharpsburg in 2017, but the Mt. Lebanon location has remained open for visitors.
The plaintiffs allege Hitchhiker Brewing does not restrict how many people visit the taproom, often leading to patrons gathering outside and creating noise. The lawsuit also claims the company regularly allows visitors to loiter outdoors after its 11 p.m. closing time.
Attorney Robert Goldman represents the plaintiffs. He said the area in question is zoned as neighborhood commercial development in Mt. Lebanon.
"That type of zoning is for unobtrusive businesses," he said. "Business operations that are low intensity and conducted at a scale compatible with the surrounding residential neighborhood. It's meant to enhance the residential neighborhood."
The plaintiffs are arguing that Hitchhiker can no longer be classified as unobtrusive. Goldman said the plaintiffs' house shares a property line with Hitchhiker, which allegedly has caused problems outside of noise.
"[The male plaintiff] has observed people publically urinating on their private property, people come by and check the doors of his car," Goldman said. "A lot of disruption as a result of the crowds and that is what the complaint is centered about."
The plaintiffs are asking for financial damages and an injunction that would prevent Hitchhiker patrons from gathering outdoors, even during business hours.
"Hitchhiker is just a victim of their own success," Goldman said. "I would say they probably have a good product which draws the crowds."
Hitchhiker Brewing Co. declined to comment. The solicitor for Mt. Lebanon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.