Opponents of McCandless Wal-Mart take fight to court
McCandless Council went behind residents' backs to approve a Wal-Mart supercenter along Blazier Drive last month, refusing to provide them with details about the store, opponents argued in appealing the decision to an Allegheny County Common Pleas Court judge.
“The town's conduct in this regard has been ... in bad faith and contrary to its fiduciary responsibilities to its constituents, lacking in fundamental fairness, and manifests a gross bias in favor of Wal-Mart's development,” the 17-page appeal filed on Thursday says.
Council vice president Gerard J. Aufman Jr. was one of three members to vote against the project on July 28. He would not explain his vote and said he neither supported nor opposed the appeal.
“It doesn't matter to me one way or another,” he said. “If they want their day in court, that's fine, but I don't know if that's going to accomplish anything.”
Councilman Ralph J. LeDonne declined comment other than to say he voted for the project near Ingomar and McKnight roads because Wal-Mart “followed all the rules and regulations of PennDOT ... and our zoning ordinances.”
Other council members did not return calls or declined to comment citing “advisement from counsel.” Solicitor William Ries did not return calls.
Wal-Mart spokesman William C. Wertz said the company followed all local regulations in seeking approval for the store.
“It's unfortunate that a small number of project opponents are continuing to try to block a new store that will bring affordable shopping options to customers, generate jobs and tax revenue, and benefit the community as a whole,” Wertz said.
Franklin Park lawyer Dwight Ferguson, who represents the 15 residents who appealed, said Wal-Mart representatives began meeting with McCandless officials in late 2013, and submitted reports, studies and plans with their application to develop the land last month.
The public, the appeal said, “knew nothing” about the store until the application appeared on the agendas of council's zoning and finance committees. Company officials presented their application to the committees at a meeting on July 21.
At council's July 28 meeting, residents, “appeared and expressed their frustration; disbelief; questions; requests for an opportunity to see the applications and be represented by legal counsel; and their shock at being ostracized from the process.”
Council ignored their request to delay voting and, after listening to complaints for five hours, voted 4-3 to allow development of the land.
The appeal, which will likely be assigned to Judge Joseph M. James, asks that he make Wal-Mart's plans available to the public, afford opponents the opportunity to present additional evidence and either remand the company's application back to council or rule on the application himself based on the facts.
Adam Brandolph is a Trib Total Media staff writer. He can be reached at 412-391-0927.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Players respect coach, refuse to blame Johnston
- Eagle egg breaks, parents abandon nest
- Rogue Catholics in Society of St. Pius X to reopen West End church
- Pirates notebook: Locke makes bid for final rotation spot, Tabata cut
- Couple taken into custody after 8-hour standoff in Hempfield
- Norwin High School health teacher charged with selling heroin
- Cal U women win Division II national title with 86-69 win
- MLB commissioner: Pirates’ success starts in the front office
- Penguins coach Johnston’s mother dies
- Pa. woman charged with forging docs to claim she was an attorney
- Westmoreland officials fear loss of impact fees