Progress reported on Forward Township GetGo opening
Opening day is near for a long-awaited convenience store along Route 51 in Forward Township.
“Everybody is happy with GetGo,” said Tom DeRosa, chairman of the township supervisors, after Monday's board meeting. “They can't wait until it opens. It will be a good deal for them.”
A banner posted outside the future GetGo location touts a website where job hunters can go for an outlet listed as being in Elizabeth. It actually is some distance over the Forward township line from Elizabeth, at 1000 Hayden Blvd.
DeRosa said he was told the store will open at the end of the month, but a company spokesman said the Giant Eagle-affiliated convenience store chain did not have “anything immediately to add” to previous public statements about GetGo.
Those statements initially predicted an opening date as early as summer 2013. But delays in getting necessary permits held up a development agreement for the site until June 2013.
“It was supposed to be done two years ago,” DeRosa said in November, after the Payday's finally was demolished. “The state held us up on a highway occupancy permit.”
Ironically, the usual source for updates on GetGo at township meetings, tax collector Bill Firczak, was not in attendance Monday night.
Instead, the main topics included the Elizabeth Forward landfill operations privilege tax and new permits for gas wells EQT is drilling near the Monongahela River.
Former township supervisor Tom Headley, an affected property owner, said the state Department of Environmental Protection approved permits last week for five new wells on EQT's Oliver East tract.
That will bring to 10 the total number of wells on Oliver East, while 12 permitted wells continue to operate on the Oliver West tract.
Three were approved last fall, nine others more recently. Except for two Oliver West wells drilled into the more shallow Genesse shale, all the wells are headed into the Marcellus shale.
Resident Howard Fleming questioned a lack of signs limiting truck traffic to 20 mph heading away from the river on Pangburn Hollow Road.
Headley said EQT hasn't replaced signs that disappeared during the winter months.
DeRosa said he would bring up the road concern at a meeting later this week on other topics with EQT.
DeRosa continued to question Elizabeth Forward's passage last month of the $3-a-ton tax aimed at trucks going into Waste Management's Kelly Run landfill along Route 51.
“They just came up with a fee,” DeRosa said.
An industry spokesman questioned the school district's use of the Local Tax Enabling Act of 1965 as its basis for the tax, saying it was pre-empted by Act 101 of 1988. That law established a host municipality benefit fee Forward levies, of $1.30 a ton.
In addition, DeRosa said township residents haven't paid garbage fees.
“We have free garbage,” the township board chairman said. “We've had an agreement with them over the past 15 years. They've been good to us.”
Township Solicitor Matt Racunas said he had no role in the school district's decision, though he's a law partner of school Solicitor Pat McGrail.
The landfill tax is aimed to help Elizabeth Forward balance a 2014-15 budget without raising real estate taxes.
Lisa Stout-Bashioum, a Bentworth school director running for state House, said she would rather have an extraction tax on gas drilling.
Stout-Bashioum, daughter of retired state Sen. Barry Stout, D-Somerset Township, is unopposed next week for the Democratic nod to take on state Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth Township, in the fall for the 39th Legislative District.
The board of supervisors voted to opt into a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HOME consortium program providing funds through the Twin Rivers Council of Governments.
Supervisor Ron Skrinjorich said a Community Days organizing meeting is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. at the municipal building. The township will hold the annual celebration on Aug. 16 and 17 at Gallatin-Sunnyside Park.
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.
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