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West View municipal authority likely will appeal decision against clean-fill plan

| Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 9:30 p.m.

A water authority likely will go to court to appeal Franklin Park's denial of its application to build a five-acre “clean-fill” site used to deposit excavated dirt, the authority's solicitor said on Thursday.

“Certainly, we think the conclusion was unfair,” said Fred Baxter, solicitor for the Municipal Authority of the Borough of West View, referring to Franklin Park Council's vote late Wednesday against the project.

Council voted 5-1, with Richard H. Hartman opposed, to deny the authority's conditional-use application to establish a clean-fill site on part of a 25-acre tract the authority owns on West View Lane, near its reservoir in Franklin Park. Officials denied the land development application for the project, too.

The authority's application couldn't meet the nine conditions required for a conditional-use permit, Franklin Park solicitor Max Junker said.

Some Franklin Park and McCandless residents had expressed concerns about noise from dump trucks, disturbances from lights, contaminates that could seep into well water and a potential decline in home values.

“It wasn't just aesthetic. It was a health issue, as well,” said Barbara K. Kohl, who lives within walking distance of the site.

The authority supplies water to 32 municipalities and more than 200,000 people in portions of Allegheny, Beaver and Butler counties.

When the authority repairs water mains, it is prohibited from reusing excavated materials to fill holes. The clean-fill site would be used to hold excavated earth.

The Department of Environmental Protection defines clean fill as “uncontaminated, nonwater-soluble, nondecomposable inert solid material” such as soil, rock, used asphalt and brick.

The authority requested the conditional-use permit by deeming the clean-fill site an emergency service and municipal facility. A borough ordinance defines this as a structure or lot used for police, fire, ambulance, public works or other public services.

Alan Shuckrow, an attorney representing about 50 Franklin Park and McCandless residents, said the site falls under the borough's broad definition of a solid waste facility, which would not be permitted in Franklin's Park's R-2 residential zoning district.

Baxter disagrees. “Our position is the statute that controls and defines solid waste specifically excludes this material. This material is known as clean fill,” he said.

Franklin Park has 45 days to send a letter to the authority, explaining why the application was denied. When that letter is received, the authority likely will appeal the council's decision in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Baxter said.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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