N. Huntingdon road near Wal-Mart remains private — for now
A road that loops around the North Huntingdon Township Wal-Mart will remain private for now.
At a meeting that at times was stormy on Wednesday, the board of commissioners voted 3-3 to table acceptance of Ronda Court as a public roadway, then 3-3 to accept it.
On the first vote, board president Lee D. Moffatt joined board vice president Zachary Haigis and Commissioner Brian West in favoring a delay.
On the second, Commissioners David Herold, Anthony Martino and Donald Austin favored dedicating Ronda Court to the township rolls.
Absent was Commissioner Richard Gray.
Then, after an extensive discussion involving two developers and an attorney for a third, the board voted 6-0 to advertise it for possible action again in July.
Developers Robert W. Shuster and Donald Tarosky said the delay will affect decisions by national firms looking at other properties between the Wal-Mart and Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange.
“We all want the road to be public, because it is being used by the public,” said Tarosky, from Lincoln Hills Realty Associates. “If it is public, then we are not subject to PennDOT regulations requiring us to do off-site improvements.”
That would include spending $500,000 to put a traffic light at Barnes Lake Road and Norwin Avenue, an intersection a short distance from where Mills Drive intersects with Barnes Lake. Mills Drive in turn runs into Ronda Court, forming a boundary for seven outparcels that DeBartolo Development is selling for its Huntingdon Marketplace shopping center anchored by the year-old Wal-Mart Supercenter.
The commissioners later authorized applying to PennDOT for traffic signals there and at Barnes Lake and Caruthers Lane.
“If you don't open up Ronda Court and Mills Drive, you won't have any development,” said Shuster, whose RWS Development owns a 14.4-acre tract adjacent to Ronda Court.
DeBartolo Development attorney William R. Sittig Jr. is concerned about what would happen to his client's plans.
“We would prefer concurrent acceptance of Mills Drive, too,” Sittig told the commissioners.
“We are here to accommodate you,” Sittig said, but added that “DeBartolo Development (has) been playing nice with people with hands in their pockets.”
Shuster said delays in accepting Ronda Court were a reason why Albensi Dental pulled out of plans for an 18,000-square-foot building in the nearby Lincoln Hills business park.
Shuster said some national firms are looking at North Huntingdon but may not wait 30 days. He said one firm wants to build a 70,000-square-foot building and bring in 600 employees, another a 35,000-square-foot building and bring in 100 employees.
Lincoln Hills developer Tarosky said DeBartolo's attorney cooperates with other developers, but with conditions.
“We've always had an open discussion with Mr. Sittig,” Tarosky said. “Those discussions will continue.”
“I don't care what DeBartolo says,” Shuster told the commissioners. “They're from Florida and they don't give a damn about North Huntingdon.”
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.