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North Huntingdon tables decision on making road that provides access to Wal-Mart public

| Friday, July 12, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

North Huntingdon commissioners will wait until August to decide whether to take on as a public road Ronda Court, which accesses Wal-Mart off of Route 30.

As a private road, it's subject to restrictions from the state Department of Transportation, township manager John Shepherd said. It's possible, Shepherd said, that PennDOT could impose demands on a developer that would make the property difficult to develop.

As a public road, PennDOT red tape would vanish, he said after a township meeting on Thursday. The board of commissioners is interested in the road from an economic development standpoint, Shepherd said.

“To permit the Lincoln Hills commercial property to be developed in a reasonable fashion,” he said.

The township also could consider taking as its own nearby Mills Drive, although grass medians there are a concern, Shepherd said.

Shepherd and assistant township manager Michael Turley met with PennDOT officials recently about the issue.

“Ultimately, I believe the position of PennDOT was that … if it becomes a public road, Ronda Court and/or Mills Drive, then PennDOT would not have jurisdiction concerning future development,” Shepherd said.

However, PennDOT suggested the agency review plans regardless, Shepherd reported.

Township officials met with representatives of impacted landowners DeBartolo Development and Lincoln Hills Realty.

Taking over the road as public requires an ordinance. Then, he said, township officials are on the hook for maintenance, such as fixing potholes.

In meeting with PennDOT, officials discussed the left-turn lane near the turnpike interchange at Route 30 onto Ronda Court, which is lined with a concrete curb. PennDOT officials believe the curb works, Shepherd said.

Also at issue, Shepherd said, is the lack of landscaping around the Wal-Mart property. Conceptual drawings show trees lining Ronda Court, Mills Drive and the property Sheetz occupies, he said, suggesting revised plans.

“The question seems to be — who foots the bill to put them in?” township planning director Andrew Blenko said.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

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