Bedner Estates files motion against Bridgeville

Published Jun 13, 2013 at 4:43 pm (Updated Jun 13, 2013 at 4:43 pm)

Lawyers on behalf of Bedner Farms Estates have filed an emergency motion for special injunction and proposed order of court against the borough of Bridgeville.

According to the document, Bedner Farms owns property located on Cook School Road which consists of approximately 112 acres of land in the township of Upper St. Clair that directly abuts Bridgeville.

Preliminary land development approval was obtained by USC in April 2012, with final land development approval for phase one occurring April 1, 2013.

At the April 1 meeting this year, commissioners in Upper St. Clair approved 21 Thomas Homes lots along Scarlett Drive and 25 Heartland Homes lots along Diamond Court and Sapphire Drive. The limited number of homes was approved with more home lots in the works after approval to connect the homes to Main Street in Bridgeville is obtained, which has not happened.

On March 8, the plaintiff, Bedner Estates, filed an “application to excavate or drill in Bridgeville borough streets” with Bridgeville. The application sought to permit to extend the utilities located in Main Street within the borough to the Bedner Estates property, which abuts Main Street. Bedner also sought to establish the connection to Main Street. Around March 28, the borough issued a letter denying Bedner Estates’ application “without appropriate legal justification for the same, violating the rights of the plaintiff.”

According to the document, the borough of Bridgeville “issued the denial despite the fact that Main Street is a public roadway that was laid out, improved, maintained and utilized for a period in excess of 65 years, and that Plaintiff’s property directly abuts Main Street.”

The suit also states that Bridgeville has a “mandatory duty to approve Plaintiff’s application and to permit Plaintiff to connect its utilities to Main Street and to open the same so that the approved development can commence on the Plaintiff’s property.” The suit states that public records including the Bridgemont Plan, the Green Acres Plan and the street map confirm that Main Street is a public street, which has been maintained by Bridgeville to the Plaintiff’s property line.

The suit contends that “under the color of law,” the defendant has “revoked and prohibited Plaintiff’s rights to utilize a public right of way that abuts Plaintiff’s property.”

“We believe we have a clear right to relief,” said Jonathan Kamin, attorney for Beder Estates. He said they would continue to fight for access to the street.

Bridgeville Borough Manager Lori Collins declined to comment on the case.

Borough solicitor Richard Ferris would comment only to say that the case is moving forward and “there are going to be future hearings.” He said the next hearing is scheduled for July 2.

Upper St. Clair Manager Matthew Serakowski said that originally the township was not part of the lawsuit, but said, “We have intervened.”

“The suit is purely the denial of the street opening permit,” Serakowski said. “As far as Upper St. Clair is concerned, the development is moving forward.” He added that the suit is between the developer and Bridgeville Borough.

Bridgeville resident Cee Cee McNulty lives along Main Street and said that the Bedner developers never approached Bridgeville about using the road as a connection for the new development. She added that to her knowledge if a street – like Main Street – has been a closed street for more than 21 years, then a petition with at least 51 percent of residents agreeing to open up the street is needed.

“We have a really narrow road,” McNulty said of Main Street, adding that parking is allowed on just one side of the road, which has about 134 homes on it. “We already have an issue with speeding and traffic. It’s just a matter of saying we don’t want this.”

“They also want to give us their sewage,” McNulty said of the development, adding that the sewage line is more than 55 years old and has already been lined a few years ago because of seepage. She is also concerned about possible flooding from groundwater runoff that could occur with the new development.

“It’s going to affect our neighborhood. We shouldn’t have to bear the burden of the cost,” McNulty said. She added that it doesn’t make sense to build a new development without additional feeder roads.

Nancy Bianchin also lives on Main Street in Bridgeville and said, “I’m really in a bad place. I’m a Bedner and I live on Main Street.” Bianchin added that her street is a “mess” and that it’s not safe enough as it is to back into her own driveway.

Bianchin said she sees both sides of the story because she’s lived in the area all her life, growing up on the Bedner Farm in Upper St. Clair and then moving to a house nearby in Bridgeville as an adult. Bianchin said she’s concerned that no one is currently maintaining the former farm.

“Upper St. Clair doesn’t want to cut the grass,” she said. “The ticks are running amuck.” She called the situation “one big mess.” She added, “All they see is the dollar bill.”

Both Bianchin and Upper St. Clair resident Cathy Manalo contend that the property has not been taken out of “Clean and Green” and that the developers are paying less tax on it than they should.

“This property has been sold. It’s no longer a farm. It shouldn’t be treated as a farm,” said Manalo, who lives on Scarlett Drive in Upper St. Clair. She added that it has been more than the 60 days required to remove the property from Clean and Green status, but no one is maintaining the land or cutting the grass.

“There are nothing but weeds and more ticks than in the 17 years I’ve lived here,” Manalo said, adding that the grass is four to five feet tall in some places. Manalo said she’s tried to talk with the township but the township states that the property is still considered a farm.

“The developer is doing nothing to maintain and develop this property,” Manalo said. “You can’t have it both ways. If it’s a farm, farm it. If not, then do something with it.”

She added that traffic is also a problem.

“There’s going to be a ton more traffic,” she said, adding there are frequent accidents in her neighborhood.

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