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Judge upholds rejection of tree harvest in Turnpike Gardens in Monroeville

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

An Allegheny County judge upheld a decision by Monroeville Council that blocks a proposed timbering project in Turnpike Gardens.

Common Pleas Judge Joseph M. James ruled Jan. 28 that council “correctly denied” a request from the Point Circle Association homeowners group to remove more than 300 trees on 29.5 acres between Point Circle Drive and the turnpike.

The land is owned by the nonprofit association.

Members wanted to remove large, dying trees on the land, which they said could fall and cause injury and property damage.

They also said removing the trees would allow younger trees to grow and invigorate the land.

The group asked council to waive an ordinance that prohibits harvesting trees on property prone to landslides.

An engineer hired by the municipality said the hillside was landslide prone, and council denied the association's request, 6-1.

Association members appealed to court. They said council denied them due process at a public meeting and that municipal officials failed to hire a forestry specialist while making its decision.

James dismissed the appeal in his ruling.

Association members could not be reached for comment.

More than 300 residents signed a petition, presented to council, that opposed the timber harvest.

Residents living near the parcel said they were concerned with a potential increase in turnpike noise, property damage caused by logging trucks and the loss of healthy trees.

Some said the association's sole intent was to sell the lumber for a profit.

“I'm really pleased that (the county judge) denied it,” Turnpike Gardens resident Ralph Greco said. “I don't want to see an more trees being cut down in Monroeville than have to be.”

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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