Windmont Farms public hearing held last week
A continuation of a public hearing march 13 regarding the proposed Windmont Farms Preliminary Planned Residential Development (PRD) in Hampton Township had more than three hours of testimony with the bulk of it from nearby residents opposing the project.
This is the second hearing on the development, following a hearing last month. Council scheduled this second date to ensure all parties who wanted to offer comment or provide expert testimony were able to do so.
Applicant Crossgate Inc. is proposing to develop approximately 63 acres at the intersection of West Hardies and South Pioneer roads, consisting of 14 duplexes and 40 single-family homes for a total of 69 units.
It also includes a variance request submitted to the township’s zoning hearing board with a request from a zoning ordinance regarding relief from requirements for replacing trees that are planned to be removed for development purposes.
Despite the hearing ending well after midnight, council still has 60 days to make a decision or response on the development.
Everyone offering testimony was requested to do a formal swearing-in at the beginning of the hearing.
The property is being sold by the children of the owners, the late Charles and Margo Chalfant. At the February hearing, the daughters said it was the intent of their parents to have the property developed and that Crossgate, with the involvement of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, will protect the historical aspects of the site.
This PRD has been under scrutiny over the past year, mostly by local residents who are opposing the project under various reasons, such as traffic and a fear it would increase flooding to an already overly saturated area.
The local residents have experienced problems with water damage and express the development, in particular in regard to the removal of trees and land clearing, could increase water flow to their homes and properties.
They were represented by several experts on these subjects at the public hearing, including a civil engineer specialized in hydrogeology; a certified arborist and tree worker; and numerous residents with exhibits and documents supporting their claims.
Representatives from or hired by Crossgate for the project were present and also offered rebuttal to testimony opposed to their proposed development, including a senior engineer at Sheffler and Company; the owner of Ajay Environmental Consulting; and the principal and certified arborist at Horhut Tree Services, Inc., which will provide the tree clearing.
The arborist hired by the residents for expert testimony, Robert Kruljac, said the clearing was not possible under their current tree-removal plan without damaging roots of nearby trees. The Crossgate tree representative disagreed and said they will be on-site managing the swale tree trimming with the interest of tree health in mind. They will keep as many trees on site as possible.
In regard to flooding, their engineer said they were taking the most conservative approach in stormwater planning and keeping water onsite.
Council members Bethany Blackburn and Dr. Carolyn Johnson questioned the developer’s plans in adhering to the open space requirement. According to that requirement, there needs to be 10-plus acres of open space with 2.7 acres of that as active recreational space, according to Graham Ferry of Sheffler and Company representing the developer.
Matt Prather, legal counsel representing Crossgate, said township engineers have approved the plans numerous times, though at last month’s meeting they did say the township Environmental Advisory Council has not recommended approval.
He stated there is only so much information required by council at this point in the process.
“Final engineering and site details are not required at this stage and we’ve gone pretty far as to what is required,” said Prather, adding they are consistent with the township’s comprehensive plan.
“This proposed PRD is no way reflective of the public’s interest,” said Brian King of West Hardies Road, commenting that the developer’s goal of bringing in long-term residents would only drive away the long-term residents who are already living there and may be negatively affected by the development.
“The proposed development is entirely too big for this site. They are trying to fit a boulder in a tea cup,” King said.
Hampton Township legal counsel also asked questions from township administration and its third-party engineers to clarify the process of development and their roles in reviewing applications.
When questioned, Martin Orban, Hampton Township land use administrator, said the developer has provided significantly more details in this preliminary application process than normally required or done by an applicant.
The Hampton Township Council closed the public and has 60 days to respond.