West Deer residents may have to wait for reprieve from noise
Residents of Deer Hollow Lane in West Deer have tried for years to get a barrier between their homes and a construction company at the Rockpointe Business Park.
Township officials say the Rock Airport and business park bankruptcy case is hindering their response, but residents say their requests were made long before the property went into bankruptcy in 2009.
Resident Robert Maholic said he spoke to supervisors many times about noise coming from the Joseph B. Fay Co. property, including a township meeting in 2007 in which he said he reported hearing vehicle backup beeps most mornings at 5 a.m.
“There was supposed to be a barrier put up, but it was never done,” he said. “(The township) should stand up and fight for us. We go from year to year, and all they do is prolong it.”
Township officials say a remedy likely will have to wait until Rock Airport and business park emerges from bankruptcy.
“Around the whole airport, there are all sorts of barriers and things required to be done when it was built,” said West Deer Supervisor Gerry Vaerewyck. “The problem is that it didn't happen because the airport went into bankruptcy, and when that happened, all that stuff fell into the purview of the courts.
“We have our hands tied.”
A spokeswoman for Fay construction did not return several calls seeking comment.
Township Manager Daniel Mator said the township has had discussions with Deer Hollow Lane residents and Joseph B. Fay representatives.
“Whoever the court is in favor of (taking over the property) we're expecting them to comply with all previous requirements,” he said.
But resident James Wellington said they couldn't get help from the township even before the bankruptcy case.
“I know that's the way it's ended up, but before the bankruptcy it was always some other excuse,” he said. “I guess we just have to wait and see.”
Wellington said his home is about 50 yards from where Fay construction parks its construction vehicles and has a repair shop.
“I'm retired for the last eight years and I used to work in big construction jobs, so now this is my morning nightmare,” he said. “So how many years is it going to go on?”
In May this year, Maholic expressed frustration that the buffer zone issue hadn't been addressed.
He submitted a petition signed by Deer Hollow Lane residents, one of whom is Supervisor Richard DiSanti.
DiSanti said he couldn't comment on the issue because of pending lawsuits between the township and Rock Airport.
DiSanti filed a civil suit in 2007 against Rock Airport alleging runoff from the development put sediment into a stream that feeds a one-acre pond on his property. The DiSantis are seeking payment to cover work to remove sediment from the pond, loss of use of it and ongoing harm. The case is pending in Allegheny County Court and could be resolved as part of the bankruptcy case.
Rock Ferrone, president of the airport, said he is aware of residents' complaints, but hasn't been in direct contact with them.
Ferrone acquired the property in 1998. Not long after, the area was designated a Keystone Opportunity Zone to spur development by offering companies that located there 10 years of tax breaks.
The business park sold the property to Fay construction in 2002 and isn't directly responsible for problems that arise, but Ferrone said he wants to work with residents and the township to resolve the situation.
“The bankruptcy doesn't interfere with those activities; if there are things that need to be done, they can be done,” Ferrone said. “Any situation like that, even if it's not our responsibility, we want to be involved and be a good neighbor.”
He said the airport and business park is zoned an industrial area and it would have been the township's responsibility to require barriers to be erected when Fay first bought the parcel.
Gary Bogan, the township's code enforcement officer, said the township “isn't willing to do anything right now.”
They are anticipating the new owner will correct problems, officials said.
“The township isn't taking one side or the other in the case,” Bogan said. “We are on the side that will make the corrections that we request.”
Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or firstname.lastname@example.org.