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Greensburg considers eminent domain

| Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

Greensburg City Council is expected to vote next month on a proposed ordinance that would give the city solicitor the go-ahead to use eminent domain powers when needed to take properties for the Northmont Flood Protection Project.

Council introduced the proposed measure, which further gives city officials power to negotiate with property owners for easements, during a meeting Monday.

Under the eminent domain portion of the proposal, solicitor Bernard McArdle would be able to turn to the courts to take necessary easements after negotiating a fair price with property owners.

“This is really an enabling ordinance that would allow us to do that if it becomes necessary,” McArdle told council.

City officials expressed hope they won't need to use eminent domain for the project.

Forty-eight easements, both permanent and temporary, are needed for the work, City Administrator Sue Trout said.

The 2,100-foot project will mostly involve box culverts and concrete channels.

The project will run from Northmont past Kenneth and Beaver streets, then under routes 819 and 119.

The channel will continue into Hempfield, where the Roosevelt Way bridge will be replaced. Discharge will occur into Jacks Run near Lynch Field.

At least 15 homes on Northmont, Kenneth, Kenmore and Beaver streets would benefit, officials said.

Problems arise from overflow from an unnamed tributary of Jacks Run. Flooding occurred in the area during a period of heavy rain Aug. 2-3, Trout said.

Some residents have questioned the taking of their land, saying they haven't experienced any flooding.

The project has been discussed for decades.

Over that time, work was shelved because of other flood-control work in the city and a decline in flooding in the Northmont area, state officials said.

Heavy rain in August 2007 renewed interest in the work. After those rains, residents began complaining to council about flooded basements and sewage backup.

The state has set aside $3.7 million for design, construction and inspection. The city has budgeted $400,000 to obtain rights of way and for demolition work, tree removal and possible utility relocation.

The state Department of Environmental Protection wants work to begin next spring.

In another matter, council hired Gregory Bauman, who has worked as a part-time officer on the Harmarville and Cheswick forces, as a patrolman.

He ranked first in civil service testing, Chief Walter “Wally” Lyons said.

Bauman's hiring brings the total number of officers on the force to 26, one short of a full contingent, the chief said.

Council also approved site and land development plans for a new Sunoco convenience store on Mt. Pleasant Street.

Starting next month, Sunoco will raze the current store and construct a new one of about 3,780 square feet.

The city's planning commission unanimously recommended that council approve the proposal.

Plans call for installing new gasoline pumps, replacing underground fuel tanks, repaving the lot and setting up 26 parking stalls, including those in the gasoline fill-up area.

The new building will be the same in design but slightly larger than the store built last year on Fourth Street in Youngwood, Sunoco officials said.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or