Bridgeville/Bedner saga not over yet

Published Jul 31, 2013 at 10:16 am (Updated Jul 31, 2013 at 10:16 am)

Four Bridgeville residents and business owners have filed a motion seeking reconsideration regarding a settlement approved July 16 between Bedner Farms Estates and the Borough of Bridgeville.

The motion, filed July 25 in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, requests the court “reconsider and perhaps modify important aspects of the settlement agreement between Bedner Farm Estates and Bridgeville Borough.”

The settlement was discussed at a July 8 Bridgeville Borough Council meeting in which Philip Sbrolla, an attorney retained by the borough’s insurance carrier, stated the settlement included a sum of $70,000 to be paid to Bridgeville in various installments. The settlement would allow 33 homes in the new Bedner development to tap into Bridgeville’s sewer lines, although sewer service fees would be paid to Upper St. Clair. Sbrolla said at the July 8 meeting that the $70,000 would be used for sewer line upgrades in Bridgeville.

The group requesting the reconsideration includes Neil Lyons, Bob Fryer, Joel Lakus and Bill Colussy. Lyons, who lives at the corner of Pesavento Drive near where the development is to be located, is running for Bridgeville Borough Council. Lyons is set to lose the use of a large portion of his side yard once the development is in place. Colussy is a member of Bridgeville Borough Council and was the only council member to vote against preparing the settlement at the July 8 meeting. Fryer is a former chairman of the Bridgeville Planning Commission and currently acts as a city planning consultant, and Lakus is the chairman of the Bridgeville Republican Party.

The motion states that the home builder is “being completely uncompromising in their determination to spend the least amount of funds possible constructing a roadway between their home construction site and a major regional connector road for the residents of the homes that are to be built and ignoring and refusing to expend funds to construct curbs, sidewalks and other roadway features that would decrease the danger and increase the general safety of Bridgeville resident pedestrians and also the motorists in the larger region.”

Upper St. Clair Township Manager Matthew Serakowski had no comment on the matter, saying, “We have not had a chance to review the motion.”

“From what I understand, it appears the argument was very small in detail,” said Lyons, referring to the argument presented by Bridgeville’s solicitor regarding access to the new development. He said the argument did not mention the already-busy Bower Hill Road intersections.

Lyons said, to his knowledge, information on the arterial roadway was not presented during the arguments.

“There was a severe amount of incompetence here,” Lyons said.

The motion states that when Washington Pike was widened from two to four lanes in nearby areas about 40 years ago, the Bridgeville and South Fayette areas were skipped and therefore resulted “in a traffic congestion nightmare in Bridgeville.”

The motion also contends that with the number of homes proposed, at more than 150, there could be more than a 1,000 trips a day on Bridgeville’s roads that will be a “substantial burden and disruption to the Bridgeville neighborhood and will lower the general safety at nearby intersections for all motorists.”

The proposed access for the Bedner development is Bridgeville’s Main Street, which up until the July 8 meeting, residents thought was a closed street. At that meeting, Bridgeville’s Solicitor Richard Ferris said that an ordinance was passed in 1949-51 that stated Main Street was open all the way to the Upper St. Clair boundary. He said at that meeting the fact there was never asphalt on that area doesn’t matter and it’s still legally open.

Lyons said he filed a petition last year to keep Main Street closed, but it was denied. The street, which doesn’t have any sidewalks, is already busy, Lyons said.

The motion also states that the proposed entrance site is 300 yards away from the “already dangerous Bower Hill Road/Sylva Drive intersection.” The proposed entrance site is also 500 yards away from the “even more dangerous Bower Hill Road/McLaughlin Run Road intersection and 500 yards further is the heavily congested Bower Hill Road/Washington Pike intersection,” the motion states.

“We’re not asking for anything crazy,” Lyons said, just that more entrances and exits to the development are needed. He said once Main Street is open, “not only the new houses will use it, everyone will use it,” as a shortcut to get to I-79.

Lyons said in addition to more traffic, he’s also concerned about flooding in the area, saying any debris is going to come down the hill from the development and “is all going to drop into Chartiers Creek.”

Two alternate routes are proposed in the motion, including access through a road that, according to the motion, has existed for 100 years and the Bedner family used to truck farm products 500 yards to its retail store. The road still exists today, but is covered in grass. “It is between 12 and 15 feet wide, and because it was cut out of the stone hillside, no part of it has collapsed,” the motion states.

The second option proposed by the group involves constructing an alternate two-lane wide route between the farm land site and Bower Hill Road, which could be built through the gradually sloping cut that was formed in the hillside of the Bedner Farm plateau by the stream that has been running through it. According to the motion, a two-lane wide concrete bridge already exists at the point where the proposed new road would reach the lower Bower Hill Road elevation. “This specific option would certainly provide a much more impressive and grand entrance to the ... Bedner Farms Estates than the planned, comparatively inadequate looking ‘side door’ entrance through Bridgeville.”

Fryer added, “It would be nice if Upper St. Clair would build the necessary (access) roads.”

Lyons said the $70,000 isn’t enough to bolster Bridgeville’s infrastructure to handle the flow from the new homes in Upper St. Clair.

“I don’t understand how you can get millions of dollars in taxes and not pay for infrastructure. Where is that money going?” he said.

Jonathan Kamin, an attorney representing Bedner Farms Estates, said of the group filing the suit, “They don’t have any standing. We’ve reached a settlement which entitles us to access. We are paying money to Bridgeville for that.” He added that as far as he’s concerned, the matter is over.

Richard Ferris, who is Brigeville’s solicitor, could not be reached for comment.

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