Fayette County prison appeal period under way
Fayette County's zoning hearing board issued a resolution on Wednesday granting the county a variance and special exception for a jail to be built in Dunbar and North Union townships, starting the clock on a 30-day appeal period for those who disagree with its findings.
The board in May granted variances allowing the county to build the jail on a lot smaller than the required 150 acres, to plant 143 fewer trees than required and to permit a small section of barbed wire fencing to be visible to the public.
The special exception allows the jail to be built on land zoned for industrial use.
The two board members who voted to grant the special exception and variances, Robert Guerriere and Andre Walters, were not available for comment. Edward Payson, who voted against both requests, declined to comment.
Les Mlakar, an attorney who represented the owners of the nearby Isaac Meason House, Terry and Diane Kriss, said he plans to file an appeal. He declined further comment.
During a four-hour hearing on May 5, the Krisses were among a number of residents who objected to the $32 million jail's placement on an 18.87-acre lot on a 61-acre site off Route 119 and Mt. Braddock Road, near Laurel Mall.
Terry Kriss said his property, which includes the historic Meason House in Dunbar Township, is within 800 feet of the edge of the jail property. The house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Mlakar haºd argued unsuccessfully that the variances should not have been granted because the county caused its own “hardships” by selecting a site that did not fit zoning requirements for a correctional facility.
Others who spoke against the variances and special exception contend that the area has been strip-mined and undermined, is prone to flooding and is near a planned leg of the Sheepskin Trail.
North Union Supervisor Curt Matthews said the township opposed the proposed jail site because it will be within 1,700 feet of homes.
Michael Filoni, vice president of sales and marketing for Carload Express, which operates the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad, said building the jail near the railroad tracks will make it difficult to attract rail-served businesses to the area, including those connected to the Marcellus shale natural gas drilling industry.
The board's resolution notes all of the residents' objections and includes one condition specifically addressing some concerns — the county must build an earthen berm, plant trees and install privacy fencing to shield the Sheepskin Trail from the jail.
Four other conditions require the county to: comply with all local, state and federal rules with jurisdiction over construction of jails; obtain approval of a land development plan from the county planning commission; follow the Uniform Construction Code; and follow all requirements within the county's zoning and land development ordinances for building and operating the facility.
The planning commission on May 8 gave the plan preliminary approval. PennDOT's Bureau of Aviation objected because a portion of the jail would encroach upon a “transitional surface area” — space outside flight paths, but considered to be within a “cushion of safety” for approaching aircraft.
The objection won't stop the county from proceeding, said Erin Waters-Trasatt, bureau spokeswoman.
The FAA was reviewing the plan. A spokesman deferred comment on its findings to the county.
Commissioner Al Ambrosini, who has spearheaded the project, said there are no plans to move the proposed location of the jail because it is not within a runway protection zone and only about 25 feet of the structure is within the transitional surface area.
Liz Zemba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or email@example.com.
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.
- Ten Commandments monument in Connellsville moves to church property next to senior high
- Bullskin Township/Connellsville Township authority seeks contractor for sewer line
- Connellsville church’s coffeehouse events in 5th season
- Connellsville Chamber to honor Falcon Foundation at Gatsby gala Oct. 24
- Rep. Stefano’s 6th coffee conversation centers on budget impasse, taxes
- Road issues broached in Springfield Township
- Geibel announces Homecoming court
- Mt. Zion Community Church to hold revival meeting
- Fayette man acquitted in sex assaults
- Central Fellowship Church in Connellsville welcomes Anderson as pastor
- Fayette County auto dealer under fire for loans