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Ross reviewing developer's revamped plan

| Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A six-month court tussle between Ross officials and a company that wants to redevelop a former country club property into upscale homes might be resolved soon.

Whitehall-based developer Limerick Land Partners LP is seeking Ross' approval to build as many as 167 townhouses and 134 single-family homes on the site of the former Highland Country Club on Highland Avenue.

Commissioners denied Limerick's application for tentative approval of the residential development in a 5-4 vote in April, saying the developer's traffic study was incomplete. Limerick appealed the decision in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

“We believe that we are 100 percent in compliance with the township's ordinance,” said Limerick's attorney, Jonathan M. Kamin, on Wednesday.

About a week ago, Limerick submitted revised traffic plans to Ross. The township's civil and traffic engineers are reviewing them, said William R. Sittig, Ross' special counsel.

The two sides' attorneys discussed the revisions in a closed-door conference with Judge Joseph M. James on Wednesday, and said they will meet again in 30 days.

Officials recognize that there is no basis for denying the application if the plan complies with township rules, Sittig said.

The Highland property consists of 118.9 acres, of which 116.4 acres are in Ross and 2.66 acres are in West View.

Founded in 1920, Highland Country Club closed in 2011 amid financial woes.

Martin Gillespie, president of Heartland Homes, and partner Daniel Caste formed Limerick Land Partners, which bought the club and J&J Holdings, the club's bankrupt ownership group, in 2012.

Heartland would build the homes in the Highland project.

Limerick's proposal has drawn criticism from some Ross and West View residents, who complained that the project would negatively impact traffic in the area.

The township denied Limerick's application because it did not include a traffic study showing whether the development would create traffic problems and whether public and private roads could handle increased traffic, according to court documents.

“They didn't have all the information that they needed to be successful in developing the plan,” Ross Commissioners President Grant Montgomery, who voted against the project, said this week.

Kamin said state code doesn't require Limerick to provide an approved traffic study as part of the tentative approval process, and Ross should have granted approval with the condition that Limerick receive approval from PennDOT.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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