Jefferson Hills residents give voice to connector road issues
By Brittany Goncar
Published: Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The residents of Jefferson Hills made their voices heard Monday night.
Around 40 residents from Jefferson Estates expressed their worries about the installation of a road connecting the complex with Hunters Field.
“If this is public access and we have a constant stream of traffic, it's not going to be safe,” said Diane Hughes, 86. “We have people who walk in our community all the time. I worry about their safety. It really is a great concern to those of us who live there.”
The Jefferson Estates Homeowners Association has been meeting to investigate and discuss concerns about the proposed Frank Street for about a year, said Carmen Gioia, 60. The association's board president, Darla Kozak, could not attend the meeting but did write a letter to council.
The connector road would allow emergency responders to travel down Gill Hall Road instead of traveling up West Bruceton Road, which would save time, Pleasant Hills Councilman Robert Karcher said.
Frank Street would join Harlin Drive in Jefferson Estates, built by Gill Hall Land Co., and the proposed Spaniel Drive in Hunters Field, built by Maronda Homes.
“Hunters Field isn't completed yet,” Karcher said. “I don't know if there is a timetable, but how can you build an access road to a road that doesn't exist? All it is is dirt.”
Frank Street resulted from a lawsuit in 2003. Pleasant Hills officials sued Jefferson Hills officials to get an access road to the homes in Hunters Field. The case was settled in 2004.
“There was also a municipal component where the boroughs agreed to that, as well,” said William Shimko, solicitor in Jefferson Hills. “I would go to Pleasant Hills Council and I would ask them (about Frank Street) … If anyone tries not to build that road, Pleasant Hills is going to have something to say about that,” Shimko said.
Frank Street was supposed to be completed in 2006, said Allen Cohen, planning and zoning director in Jefferson Hills. The project was postponed because a permit never was obtained from the state Department of Environmental Protection to construct a culvert, in addition to the financial restraints caused by the recession, Cohen said. Jefferson Hills is responsible only for designing the culvert, he said.
Gateway Engineers Inc. is responsible for obtaining the permit and Maronda Homes, contractor for Hunters Field, is responsible for building the access road, Cohen said.
Attempts to get comments from officials of Gateway Engineers and Maronda Homes were unsuccessful.
“We don't have a problem with it being an emergency-access way,” Gioia said. “We just don't want it to be a public- access road.”
Council members also had some concerns about the road, as many of them were not members at the time of the lawsuit.
“I have the same concerns you have about traffic and the volume of flow through there,” said James Weber, vice president of Jefferson Hills council. “We will pursue this. We will look into this more with our solicitor. The settlement agreement is the settlement agreement. If we can work with the parties involved, Pleasant Hills and the developer, this council will certainly do that.”
Jefferson Estates residents want the access-road plan to be re-evaluated and amended to fit the living situations of 2013, Gioia said. Since 2004, two additional housing complexes — Patriot Pointe and Washington Square — have been approved for land off of Gill Hall Road.
“I've been in the West Jefferson Hills School District for 33 years,” Gioia said. “If we are owed anything because we are all taxpayers, we are at least owed another look. We are totally committed to this project, and we aren't going away.“
Brittany Goncar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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