South Fayette businesses, individuals, sue township

Published Jun 3, 2013 at 11:41 am (Updated Jun 3, 2013 at 11:41 am)

A group of South Fayette business owners and individuals have filed a land use appeal against South Fayette Township. The suit was filed with the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

The suit states that in a future land use map in the township’s recently-adopted comprehensive plan, an area along the township’s Route 50 corridor was changed from “mixed commercial or industrial/residential mix area” to “mixed-office commercial/residential.”

In the case document, the appellants cite “procedural invalidity” on part of the township, stating that the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code “sets forth mandatory procedural requirements for the adoption and amendment of a municipal comprehensive plan.” The suit also states the township did not resubmit the adopted comprehensive plan to the Allegheny County Economic Development offices, the local school district, or neighboring municipalities prior to the public hearing and board adoption of the plan on April 17.

The appellants listed in the suit include nearly 20 business owners along the Route 50 corridor, as well as individual South Fayette residents, including Cuddy Partners LP, Cuddy Land Company, Inc., Howard Concrete Pumping, LP, D. H. Bertenthal & Sons, Inc., Harriet R. Bertenthal Development Authority, 681 MR, LP, Clayton Engineering Company, Nicholson Construction Company, The Paul Partnership, Landstar Management, Zottola Investments and Servsteel, Inc.

Individuals named in the appeal include John T. and Nancy Hart, William W. Brown III, Albert Olshinsky Jr., James M. and Jacquelyn Ranalli, John L. and Madeline Kosky and John Alan and Stacy Kosky.

The case document filed on behalf of the appellants by attorneys from the law firm of Babst, Calland, Clements and Zomnir, states: “The impact of the change in the future land use map between the Draft Comprehensive Plan and the Adopted Comprehensive Plan was to reduce by more than 80 percent the land mass of the township being designated for industrial uses, leaving only a small industrially designated area in the extreme southeastern corner of the township.”

The document goes on to state that “The future land use map in the adopted comprehensive plan designated the Route 50 corridor as ‘mixed office commercial/residential’ and deleted any reference to ‘industrial uses.”

The township’s comprehensive plan, which had been in the works since April 2010, was approved by a vote of 4-1 by township commissioners on April 17. At that meeting, several industrial business owners spoke out against the elimination of most of the “industrial” portion of the future land use map.

From the map presented at the board’s March meeting to a map presented at an April 10 meeting, the wording for the area was changed from “mixed commercial or industrial/residential mix area” to “mixed-office commercial/residential.”

The appeal also states, “Upon information and belief, no member of the board or any other representative or agent of the township ever discussed at a meeting open to the public the source of or reason for the deletion of industrial uses from the Route 50 corridor on the future land use map in the adopted comprehensive plan.”

Township Solicitor Jonathan Kamin said the township was served with the papers May 29. Township Manager Ryan Eggleston would not comment on the pending litigation and said he had just received a copy of it.

“The township’s failure to comply with the strict requirements of the MPC (municipalities planning code) as set forth above renders the adopted comprehensive plan invalid, null and void,” states the case document.

Kamin said the comprehensive plan process by the township took multiple years and “the changes made were specifically requested by people claiming they had no input.”

Kamin added of the suit, “It’s a shame the township has to waste its time and resources on it.”

John Alan Kosky, who is named as an appellant in the suit as an individual and a business owner, said the township “didn’t follow procedure” in accordance with the municipalities planning code.

Deron Gabriel, president of the township’s board of commissioners, said he couldn’t comment because of the pending litigation.

Township resident R.T. Walker attended a number of commissioners’ meetings and said, “The comprehensive plan at that time wasn’t well thought out and discussed.”

Walker said the comprehensive plan makes it look like the township is “trying to keep out future industrial growth by taking such a large tract off. All that’s going to do is send industry somewhere else.”

He added, “I think there’s an agenda involved. Some of the commissioners are trying to stop gas drilling.” Walker, who works for a commercial real estate company in its oil and gas division, said, “They [the board of commissioners] are trying to take away where drilling could take place.”

South Fayette resident Fred Cardillo, who is not named in the suit, but works for a company that is, said folks are concerned as to what the elimination of “industrial” from the portion of the future land use map will mean to the future of the industrial businesses in the township.

“These businesses are not asking for anything they didn’t already have,” Cardillo said. “The businesses feel like they are having something taken away from them. These businessmen are committed to South Fayette. It’s unfortunate this is happening.”

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