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Bridgeville residents, Upper St. Clair developer take dispute about traffic to court

| Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

A group of Bridgeville residents aren't confident that they can stop a major development in neighboring Upper St. Clair, but they hope they can at least call enough attention to its impact on their borough to get a judge to intervene.

Bedner Farms Estates is planning to build up to 160 homes, called Bedner Estates, on 120 acres of former farmland at the border of Upper St. Clair and Bridgeville. When Bridgeville officials fought a proposed road and sewer connection between the development and Main Street in the borough, the developer filed a lawsuit in the Allegheny County Court seeking approval along with damages for lost revenue.

Bridgeville council approved settling with the developer last month, but residents Neil Lyons, Bob Fryer, Joel Lakus and Bill Colussy filed a motion to intervene and request a reconsideration. They maintain that Bedner should not have threatened to sue for lost time and revenue, that the court failed to consider all alternative exits and safety improvements the developer could build, and that the borough and its insurer were too hasty in agreeing to a settlement.

“We probably don't have standing to file the petition to intervene as a group, even though we include public officials,” said Bob Fryer, former chairman of the Bridgeville Planning Commission. Colussy is a current member of council.

“We are hoping that because the public safety issues weren't mentioned in the settlement ... the judge might reopen the discussion to have those features added by the developer.”

The motion to intervene argued that the developer should have been required to build an alternative to the Main Street connection or, at least, pay for traffic mitigation and safety measures such as sidewalks along Main Street and a turn lane where Bower Hill Road meets Sylva Drive. That intersection is already dangerous, the motion said, as are the nearby intersections with McLaughlin Run Road and Washington Pike; a nearby school bus stop and a Port Authority bus stop should also be relocated and the developer required to build sidewalks and curbs in the area.

The motion said Bedner Farms Estates could have built an alternate entrance that followed an old farm road that the Bedner family used to shuttle goods to a produce stand along Bower Hill, or it could have built a ramp down the hill to Bower Hill along the course of a stream.

Both the developer and Upper St. Clair's township engineer had dismissed a Bower Hill Road exit as impractical because of the steepness of the slopes and the environmental issues associated with the stream.

Bridgeville Solicitor Richard Ferris said finalizing the settlement — and allowing the project to go forward — will depend on how Common Pleas Judge Joseph James decides to handle the petition to intervene.

“We sat in conference, and the parties agreed to terms, but the judge has yet to issue an order,” Ferris said. “I imagine he'll have to rule on the petition to intervene before he issues that order.”

Jonathan Kamin, attorney for Bedner Farms Estates, could not be reached.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or msantoni@tribweb.com.

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