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North Huntingdon officials delay roadway-ownership decision

| Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 4:33 p.m.

North Huntingdon officials plan to wait until August to decide if the township will take ownership of Ronda Court, a privately owned roadway leading from Route 30 to Walmart.

Manager John Shepherd said township officials plan to meet with developers along Ronda Court — including North Huntingdon-based RWS Development, which developed Lincoln Hills and owns the proposed Lincoln Hills Business Park, and Walmart developer DeBartolo Development of Tampa, Fla. — to discuss maintenance and possible development issues.

Shepherd said officials need to pass an ordinance to declare the township's ownership of Ronda Court, which could happen in August.

Officials planned to take ownership of Ronda Court during its July 17 meeting, but decided to wait to continue discussing the roadway with the two developers, Shepherd said.

The commissioners began discussions of taking over the roadway in May, in hopes of public ownership allowing developers to avoid building access points onto Route 30, which requires PennDOT permitting and approval, Shepherd said.

Ronda Court, which runs half a mile off Route 30, near Ashton Court in Lincoln Hills, is adjacent to a 14.4-acres, owned by RWS Development, near the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Shepherd said.

When a municipality takes ownership of a road, it is responsible for winter maintenance and making necessary repairs, Shepherd said.

PennDOT officials hope to limit the amount of traffic coming onto Route 30 from Ronda Court, which qualifies as a driveway for Walmart instead of a road, Shepherd said. The qualification limits the amount of development along Ronda Court, causing several development projects to stall and eventually die, Shepherd said.

“We'd like that commercial property to be developed in a reasonable fashion, just for economic reasons,” Shepherd said. “Also, for maintenance reasons — we'd be able to make sure a public road is maintained to township standards.”

While the township hopes to spur Lincoln Hills Business Park's development, commissioners plan to make sure taking over the roadway does not restrict DeBartolo Development's ability to continue developing their properties, including the parcels surrounding Walmart, Shepherd said.

“Ultimately, if it becomes a public road, PennDOT would not have jurisdiction concerning commercial development,” Shepherd said. “But they may want to see plans for future development to see how it affects their roadways.”

Commissioner David Herold said it's important to make sure public ownership of Ronda Court won't hinder development, but the commissioners need to make sure they take action sooner rather than later.

“We don't want to drag this on,” he said.

The commissioners plan to discuss Ronda Court during its Aug. 8 workshop meeting.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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