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By Carla Valentine Myers
For The Almanac
Upper St. Clair Township Commissioners Sept. 3 granted Conditional Use approval and Preliminary Land Development approval for the mixed use development at the former Consol property on Route 19.
There are 33 housing units on the proposed plan, including 12 townhomes and 21 patio homes at the development being called Siena at St. Clair. A 39,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market is proposed along Washington Road, with some underground parking beneath the market in addition to surface parking. Another two-story, 86,000-square-foot building is proposed to house offices, other retail establishments and restaurants.
There is one entrance off Washington Road proposed for the development at the former Consol site, and one proposed on Fort Couch Road as a right turn in and out only. A traffic engineer for the developer testified at a public hearing on the matter Aug. 5 that the proposed development would not significantly impact the intersections of Fort Couch Road and Consol Drive with Route 19 during any peak hours.
Mark J. Magalotti, of the township’s traffic engineer Trans Associates, testified at the public hearing Sept. 3 that traffic impact studies look at morning and evening rush hour traffic.
He said since this particular space is a redevelopment, they are looking at the differences between traffic generated by the previous use and the proposed future use.
Magalotti said there will be much less traffic generated by the proposed development during the morning rush hour, compared to the previous use of the property.
“There will be a significant increase in traffic on Saturdays,” he said.
“This is located in an area with a lot of retail development,” he said. The property is directly across Washington Road from the South Hills Village Mall.
Magalotti said the developer will be required to add a turning lane at the intersection of Fort Couch Road and Route 19. He said this will result in three lanes at that intersection: a straight or left turn lane, a straight or right turn lane, and a right turn only lane with a median that will be controlled with a yield sign rather than the traffic light.
Maxine Brunwasser, who said she has lived on Fort Couch Road for 53 years, told commissioners that she already has trouble getting out of her driveway.
“Some thought ought to be given to those who have lived there a long time,” she said.
Some commissioners said they thought that the roadway through the development leading from Fort Couch to Washington Road might actually relieve some traffic at the intersection of Fort Couch and Route 19 as drivers cut through the new development in order to avoid that intersection.
Lois Guinn of Fieldgate Drive said she was concerned about the view she will have of a retaining wall at the proposed Whole Foods.
“We have a retaining wall outside our bedroom window at sunrise,” she said, adding that her deck will be only 50 yards from it.
“Of course house resale will be disastrous.” she added.
On July 1, commissioners granted approval for a liquor license transfer to the proposed Whole Foods Market at 1800 Washington Road from the Green Castle Cafe in Braddock, Pa.
The property was the focus of several well-attended public hearings in 2011 by the planning commission and the board of commissioners regarding a zoning text amendment sought by the developers that would permit multi-family housing units on the site as well as a list of more than 20 commercial uses that were not previously permitted there under the current Special Business District zoning. Hundreds of residents packed the township’s Community & Recreation Center for the meetings, which had to be moved to the larger venue from the municipal complex due to the level of public interest in the subject. At that time, residents expressed concern about the potential effect on traffic, property values, the impact on schools, and buffer zones separating their homes from the property.