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By Deana Carpenter

For The Almanac

Commissioners in South Fayette unanimously voted at the March 27 meeting to set the township’s millage rate for this year at 3.48 mills. The rate equates to a taxpayer with a home valued at $100,000 paying $348 in township taxes this year. This year’s rate is a decrease from last year’s millage rate of 3.84 and was lowered to adjust for county reassessments.

Township Solicitor Jonathan Kamin said the 3.84 number is “projected to be a revenue neutral number.” He added, “It is a decrease from our existing millage – a significant one at that.” However, due to reassessments, the new rate will still generate relatively the same amount of revenue.

Police Department Promotions

Jeff Sgro and John Leninger were both promoted to police sergeant at the March 27 meeting. Commissioner Joe Horowitz, who serves as the board’s public safety liaison, made the motion to promote Leninger and Sgro and the motion passed unanimously. The new sergeants were then sworn in by Louis Volle, South Fayette Township police chief.

Township Manager Ryan Eggleston stated that the promotions fill a vacancy at the department and a vacancy that will occur after Sergeant Glen Davis, who has entered the deferred employee retirement program, leaves in a couple years.

New Development

Also at the March 27 meeting, the board unanimously approved preliminary and conditional use plans for a new shopping center to be located at the former Ionics property off of Washington Pike.

The proposed three-building shopping center called The Crossings of South Fayette would include an Aldi grocery store, as well as a bank and/or restaurant and a third building with multiple tenants.

Developer Dale Greco of Bridgeville Realty Partners, LLC said at the board’s March 13 meeting that construction on the Crossings of South Fayette is contingent on approvals from the township and PennDOT. He said under the “best case scenario” construction could begin as early as this November, or it could be next spring before construction begins.

The board also approved final plans for the first phase of Walnut Ridge, a residential development. The first phase will include 33 of the nearly 90 lots. Walnut Ridge will be a 110-acre development set to be located off of Battle Ridge Road, with homes ranging in price from $400,000 to $450,000.

In other business:

• The board authorized Eggleston to extend a conditional offer of employment to the finalist selected for the open parks and recreation director position in the township. On March 28, the township hired Miles “Butch” Truitt of Oil City to be the new parks and recreation director. Truitt is currently the parks and recreation and public works director for Oil City. Eggleston, the former manager of Oil City, said Truitt would begin work in South Fayette on April 22. “He will be a great fit,” Eggleston said, adding that the township is “really excited” to have Truitt come on board. Truitt was part of about 60 applicants from across the country who applied for the job vacated last year when Jerry Males resigned.

• The board voted to table adoption of the township’s comprehensive plan to the April 17 voting meeting. Kamin said that based on feedback from residents regarding the comprehensive plan, the township is considering amending the future land use map. Kamin added that any discussion on the comprehensive plan will be postponed to the April meeting. Residents will be able to comment on the comprehensive plan during a public hearing scheduled for 7:30 p.m. April 17.

• During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Dan Bernardi told commissioners about a growing deer problem in his neighborhood. He said the deer are eating his shrubs, which he uses as a living fence around his property.

“Something has to be done,” Bernardi said, adding that some of the deer are very skinny and “basically starving.” He requested that some effort be made to try to control the deer population. “I shouldn’t have to pay for it,” he said.

Commissioner Tom Sray said that a similar problem with deer was had in the Fairview section of the township a while back and that the township brought in a group to cull the deer. Sray said the group, called Whitetail Management uses bows and arrows to kill the deer and then donates the meat to local food banks. Sray suggested that the board invite Wildlife Conservation Officer Gary Fujak to the board’s April meeting to discuss options for controlling the deer in the township.

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