Proposed road threatens Jefferson Hills neighborhood's privacy
By Tim Karan
Published: Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, 4:31 a.m.
Residents of a Jefferson Hills housing plan are worried that a proposed road from an adjacent development will change their community forever.
The gated Jefferson Estates, situated off Gill Hall Road, soon could be opened to the public if a planned access road to neighboring Hunters Field is built. Darla Kozak, president of the Jefferson Estates Homeowners Association, said the possible addition is because of a decade-old lawsuit involving Jefferson Hills and Pleasant Hills, and a subsequent arrangement between the developers.
“The road would go directly by homes that are already here,” Kozak said. “We pay money on top of everything else to live in a restricted access community. Now they want to open it up to the world.”
All of this began in 2003 — shortly after the development of Jefferson Estates and as work began on Hunters Field — when Pleasant Hills sued Jefferson Hills to build the road that reportedly would connect Harlin Drive in Jefferson Estates to the proposed Spaniel Drive in Hunters Field.
Kozak said there was concern in Pleasant Hills about the amount of traffic that would travel the area.
“Most of the traffic in (Hunters Field) would have to go through Pleasant Hills to get anywhere and (Pleasant Hills officials) were concerned about what their roads would have to endure,” Kozak said. “But before it went to court, the developers agreed to put the road in amongst themselves and the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice. There was no input from residents because we weren't here yet.”
Kozak said the agreement between Gill Hall Land Co., developer of Jefferson Estates, and Cider Inc., which was the parent company of Maronda Homes, which is developing Hunters Field, called for the road to be built by 2006. No representative from either company could be reached for comment.
Jefferson Hills planning and zoning director Allen Cohen said the project was postponed by a delay in the construction of Hunters Field.
“My understanding is that when this was initially being considered, it was determined a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection was required to deal with the building of a stream culvert, and that process delayed it a while,” said Cohen. “Then (Hunters Field) was delayed because of the recession. The road was put on hold until things recently became active again.”
Kozak said the issue came to light about a month ago when several residents of Jefferson Estates received notice requesting an easement onto their property to survey for the road. But it's unclear whether Frank Street is meant to be open to the public or strictly for emergency access.
Cohen said he was unsure of the specifics of the road and why it could potentially be built after the 2006 deadline. He said that although Jefferson Hills would be responsible for obtaining necessary permits, the construction of the road is largely out of the borough's control.
“Ultimately, as far as forcing this road to be built, it's really Pleasant Hills,” he said.
Attempts to speak with several Pleasant Hills officials were unsuccessful before presstime.
About 40 residents of Jefferson Estates attended a Jefferson Hills council meeting this month to seek guidance from the borough, but Solicitor William Shimko said their efforts should be aimed at Pleasant Hills.
“I would go to Pleasant Hills council and I would ask them (about the road),” Shimko said at the meeting. “If anyone tries not to build that road, Pleasant Hills is going to have something to say about that.”
In the meantime, Cohen said a mandatory preliminary environmental study — required before obtaining a DEP permit — already is under way, and Kozak said residents will continue attending Jefferson Hills council meetings.
“As long as residents don't allow the easement to come onto their property, they can't survey,” she said. “And we've found information that says the DEP is backed up at least a year, so we kind of feel that time is on our side. But we're going to continue to visit borough council every month to say we're still here.”
Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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