Residents want dirt dumping at Wexford Farms stopped
Pine supervisors face a dirty dilemma.
They don't know if they have the power to halt soil dumping at Wexford Farms, where farmer Paul Mustovic wants to use the mountain of dirt that many neighbors view as an eyesore and a breech of zoning rules.
The brown heap lies near the intersection of Pearce Mill and Warrendale roads.
“I want to fill the area for the future. As you know, my farm is very hilly,” Mustovic told Pine supervisors at their Jan. 22 meeting.
“I was looking for a level area for my agricultural endeavors. I just want the job completed.”
After years of dirt dumping; however, neighbors call the fill project a misuse of land.
“Basically, this has been a commercial dump over the years, and it's been disguised, essentially, as a grading project,” said Ann Hynds of the Treesdale housing plan, one of many neighbors who complained at the Jan. 22 meeting.
Hynds' backyard faces the heap of soil and road-project debris dumped at Wexford Farms since January 2010 by the Joseph B. Fay Co.
Three years ago, Pine Township gave the Frazier Township contractor a permit to grade and fill Mustovic's hollows with dirt and debris excavated during reconstruction of the Pennsylvania Turnpike between the Warrendale and Butler Valley interchanges.
Neighbors of Wexford Farms now want Pine officials to reject the contractor's latest application — filed Jan. 7 — for a new grading permit to continue dumping dirt and road project debris on Mustovic's land.
The contractor's previous grading permit expired Nov. 30.
On Dec. 3, Pine supervisors directed Larry Kurpakus, the township's director of land development, to refer new applications for grading permits at Wexford Farms to Pine Township Planning Commission and the township's board of supervisors.
Their directive followed earlier complaints by many Treesdale residents and neighbors at the supervisors' Dec. 3 meeting about the grading project and the heavy equipment stored at Wexford Farms.
Now the supervisors want to determine if the state's Agriculture, Communities and Rural Environments Act — ACRE law — of 2005 prevents township officials from ruling on Joseph B. Fay Co.'s latest application for a grading permit because it involves an agricultural operation.
“We're going to find out whose jurisdiction this applies to,” Mike Dennehy, chairman of Pine's supervisors, said at the supervisors' Jan. 22 meeting.
The supervisors then directed Gary Gushard, the township's solicitor, to explore the issue.
Supervisor Ed Owen said the township might have no control over the grading permit application.
“We have to find out if we have authority to grant or deny the application,” Owen said.
A new permit would allow continued dirt and debris dumping, for at least one more year, at Wexford Farms.
“We want to try to get that stopped,” Hynds said after the Jan. 22 meeting.
“It was a three-year permit originally, and they're asking for another one, but some supervisors are telling us it could be another two years, and who has ever heard of a five-year-grading project?”
On Jan. 22, Pine supervisors also asked Mustovic to submit a letter stating his farm-improvement plans as they relate to the soil dumping.
“We have always felt that it (Wexford Farms) has been a commercial fill site for the contractor and PennDOT and the turnpike commission, and they never obtained proper zoning approval for this type of land use,” Hynds said.
“There is a large and growing group of residents who are angry about this,” Hynds said. “People drive by this ... They see it's a mess. They question it. But they assume it's OK.
“They don't know that there are possible code violations.”
Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or firstname.lastname@example.org.