Greenbriar Drive homeowners divided over alley maintenance
A Scott commissioner's proposal to task Greenbriar Drive residents with maintaining an alley behind some of their houses has divided neighbors over whether to work cooperatively or go it alone.
The alley is a private street and doesn't meet the township's standards for a public roadway, so Scott doesn't plow it, pave it or maintain it. That hasn't stopped complaints, said Commissioner David Jason, who represents the neighborhood.
“I've had dozens of phone calls at 2, 3 o'clock in the morning saying, ‘I can't get to my garage, the snow's too deep; is there anything you can do about it?' ” Jason said. “I have to say, ‘sorry, no.' ”
Jason said he and commission President Thomas Castello, an attorney, wrote a mutual maintenance agreement that residents could sign to share the cost of plowing and maintaining the alley. About 60 houses line the alley, which has one entrance near Greentree Road and a makeshift exit where a resident extended a concrete driveway from Greenbriar.
Under his proposal, residents would pay a fee of $15 to $20 a month. One or two families in the neighborhood would maintain an account and use the money to pay contractors to plow and repair the road, Jason said. Each family in the pact would vote at a yearly meeting to set the rate and choose contractors.
So far, about half the houses have signed on, residents said.
“If it's going to make the neighborhood safer and nicer, then so be it. If my landlord raises the rent, I can live with that,” said Michelle Lista, 42.
She said the township should focus on plowing, salting and traffic control on Greenbriar Drive.
Phil and Mary Jo Bondi moved to the neighborhood from Morningside last year to take care of Mary Jo's mother, a longtime resident. They found wording in her deed stating that property owners are responsible for their section of the alley. The same language wasn't in everyone's deeds, they said.
“I don't think it should be my responsibility to take care of someone else's part of the road,” said Mary Jo Bondi, 57.
John Sciarretti, Jr., 49, a paving contractor who rents a house on the block, said he can see the pitfalls in the current arrangement. Some sections of the alley have potholes, snow problems in the winter and drainage issues because poor repair work directed water down the hillside instead of into storm drains, he said. He doubted the neighborhood's mix of working families, single parents, renters and elderly residents could afford Jason's plan.
“It's time for the (township) to step up; these people have paid their taxes already,” he said.
Resident Sandy Hapgood, 87, said she hasn't driven a car in years.
“The only time I use the alley is when I have the furnace man come and use the driveway,” she said. “I'll be damned if I'm going to pay hundreds of dollars for it.”
Jason said participation in the agreement is voluntary, but he said residents who don't sign on could find themselves more likely to be cited by township inspectors if they don't clear their snow after a storm, or don't keep their part of the street up to code. Residents said the township handed out a round of citations in March, after a light snow that had melted by the time the citations arrived in the mail.
“I'd think that paying $15 to $20 a month would be better than a fine of up to $300,” Jason said.
Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.