Traffic issues stall proposed Plum Square building in Plum

A rendering of proposed Plum Square
A rendering of proposed Plum Square
| Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

A doctor's plans for a new medical and retail building in the Unity section of Plum have stalled because of potential traffic issues.

The Plum Borough Planning Commission on June 16 voted to table a site-plan application for Plum Square, a building proposed by Dr. Amer Z. Akhrass at 314 Unity Center Road, near the intersection with Old Leechburg Road.

Prior to the discussion of the site plan, commission members recommended approval of a two-lot consolidation for the project.

Plum planning director Jason Straley said after the meeting that David E. Wooster and Associates, a traffic engineering firm in Crafton, has recommended a traffic signal at the intersection where the building is proposed.

Straley said the worries stem from plans for Bill's Hometown Pharmacy, located in a plaza across the street, to move into the new building.

Straley said, in particular, engineers are worried about additional traffic from a potential new tenant in the space vacated by the pharmacy.

“The intersection has traffic problems, and the pharmacy would make more traffic,” said Joseph Khalil, an engineer with Hampton Technical Associates in Etna, who represented Akhrass before the planning commission.

“We may need to do improvements at the intersection.”

Akhrass' practice, Prime Care Internal Medicine Associates, currently is located near the intersection of Unity Center Road and Saltsburg Road.

The physician wants to construct a two-story building with retail space on the first floor and his office on half of the second floor of the building, which would be near St. John the Baptist Catholic School.

Akhrass, of Murrysville, said he rents space and has been hoping to relocate.

He purchased the property at 314 Unity Center Road, which had a 114-year-old house on it, in 2011 for $120,000 from a trust, according to the Allegheny County Assessment website. The house was demolished.

Khalil said potential traffic issues could be eased by doing the project in phases or reducing the size of the building.

Khalil said he hopes to have a solution for the July 21 planning commission meeting.

Commission Chairman Robert Zunich said the project appears to be a good addition to the area.

“It sounds like a splendid use for the property,” Zunich said. “We encourage and will support it. But we would never be in a position to ignore traffic problems.”

The Plum Borough Zoning Hearing Board in April approved three variances for the proposed building.

Khalil said once Akhrass gets approvals and permits, construction would take about three months to complete.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-871-2367 or

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