Development of former Consol property will impact traffic
By Carla Valentine Myers
For The Almanac
A public hearing on the Conditional Use Approval for a new development at the former Consol property on Washington Road will be continued on Sept. 3.
Upper St. Clair Township Commissioners on Aug. 5 held the first part of the public hearing on the Conditional Use request, during which residents asked the commissioners to consider traffic concerns raised by the development.
Rachel Myers, a traffic engineer with David Wooster and Associates, testified that the traffic study that her firm performed for the developer indicated that the proposed development would not significantly impact the intersections of Fort Couch Road and Consol Drive with Route 19 during any peak hours.
She said the peak hours measured were 7:15-8:15 a.m. and 4:45-5:45 p.m., Monday through Friday and 11:45 a.m.-12:45 a.m. on Saturday.
Myers said the intersections would continue to function at an acceptable level of service, according to PennDOT standards.
She said their study did not include the intersection of Orr Road with Route 19 because traffic is not expected to use that intersection to get to the development. She said they did a time analysis and it indicated that use of that cut-through route did not improve travel time.
Fort Couch Road resident Randy Shaffer disagreed. “Orr Road is going to become a nightmare,” he said.
Frank McFaden, of Glo-Min Drive, said the traffic engineers obviously didn’t take into account the traffic in the area at Christmas time.
He said he doesn’t know much about the engineering that goes into traffic analysis by engineers, but “I do know when I get stuck.”
Debbie Levy, of Cadbury Court, described how it takes longer for her and her family to navigate the area as more businesses open up.
“Come shopping with me on Saturday,” she asked the commissioners. “I’m hoping you’ll protect my family.”
“Traffic studies are not often in the real world,” Levy said.
There are 33 housing units on the proposed plan, including 12 townhomes and 21 patio homes at the development being called Siena at St. Clair.
A 39,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market is proposed along Washington Road, with some underground parking beneath the market in addition to surface parking.
Another set of buildings is proposed to house offices, other retail establishments and restaurants.
On July 1, commissioners granted approval for a liquor license transfer to the proposed Whole Foods Market at 1800 Washington Road from the Green Castle Cafe in Braddock, Pa.
There is one entrance off Washington Road proposed for the development at the former Consol site, and one proposed on Fort Couch Road as a right turn in and out only.
Matt Racunas, an attorney representing two residents, on Aug. 5 listed items he viewed as deficiencies in the proposal that he said should constitute refusal by the commissioners.
Representing Margaret Witner and Michelle McKnight, Racunas said, “You can’t just approve it because it looks pretty and might be a good idea. Clearly this application does not meet the ordinance.”
The property was the focus of several well-attended public hearings in 2011 by the planning commission and the board of commissioners regarding a zoning text amendment sought by the developers that would permit multi-family housing units on the site, as well as a list of more than 20 commercial uses that were not previously permitted there under the current Special Business District zoning.
Hundreds of residents packed the meeting rooms at the township’s Community & Recreation Center for the meetings, which had to be moved to the larger venue from the municipal complex due to the level of public interest in the subject. At that time, residents expressed concern about the potential effect on traffic, property values, the impact on schools, and buffer zones separating their homes from the property.