Request to switch senate districts in Peters Township fails

Published Jan 9, 2013 at 11:15 am (Updated Jan 9, 2013 at 11:15 am)

The idea to request that Peters Township be included in the 46th Senatorial District, with representation by state Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, rather than in the 37th Senatorial District, represented by state Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, failed by a resounding 5-2 vote during a council meeting Jan. 7.

Council member David Ball brought up the idea, saying he felt the township’s more than 20,000 residents had more in common with neighboring communities to the south than in newly-elected Smith’s district. Ball told council he believed the township had little influence in Allegheny County and could be better served by Solobay when it came to dealing with the state Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Protection.

If the resolution to change districts had passed, there was no guarantee the move would have been included in the redistricting set by the state.

Once census figures are tabulated following the census every 10 years, often legislative district lines are redrawn to reflect changes in population.

Peters Township is the only municipality in Washington County that is paired with communities in Allegheny County in both the state House and Senate districts. Ball said he had no problem remaining in the House district represented by state Rep. John Maher, R-Upper St. Clair.

Ball did not receive much support from his fellow council members with only Councilwoman Monica Merrell voting to pass the resolution to ask for the switch.

Councilman Robert Atkison, who voted “no,” said he saw no benefit requesting the move, and Councilman James Berquest said since population dictated the districts, changes in other districts would need to be accomplished. Berquest also said he believed Peters Township had more in common with the areas in the 37th District than with, “the bottom of Greene County.”

In other action, Council:

• Announced the Peters Township Sanitary Authority presented its budget to council that reflects an increase of about 7.6 percent, or the current $5.05 charge per 1,000 gallons, to $5.65 per 1,000 gallons of usage. The last increase was in 2009. The township has no authority to control the fees.

• Announced a public hearing will be held at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21 on a proposed amendment to the ordinance regulating crematories.

• Passed a resolution approving the transfer of a liquor license from Sinatra’s restaurant, which went out of business before the previous transfer was competed, to Center Plate, 94 Center Church Road.

• Approved a digital sign for outside the Peters Township Volunteer Fire Depatment on East McMurray Road. The sign, which will be financed by the department, must meet all township ordinance requirements.

• The next regular meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28.

• The annual joint meeting with the Peters Township School Board will be in council chambers at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4.

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