A street connection between a long-established Peters Township neighborhood with a new residential development will not be built in the foreseeable future.
Township council voted 4-3 Monday against an ordinance and declaration of taking to authorize the acquisition of a small parcel of land for the purpose of extending Manor Way. Opposing were Frank Arcuri, Robert Lewis, Monica Merrell and Gary Stiegel Jr.
The extension would have linked the Beacon Manor and Marella Manor plans of lots, where many of the homes date back to the 1950s, with Juniper Woods, which has its main access from Thompsonville Road.
Council’s action means the Beacon-Marella neighborhood will continue to be cut off from the rest of Peters Township with regard to vehicular access, as the only way in and out is using Locust Drive through a portion of Upper St. Clair.
In August 2017, three Peters departmental officials – police Capt. Gerald Maloni, public works director Joe Hursen and since-retired fire chief Dan Coyle – wrote letters detailing their support for a connecting street in the name of improved public safety.
“The addition of egress/ingress from Thompsonville Road would reduce the response times in the event of serious calls for service,” Maloni wrote. “Additionally, this would afford our emergency services room to coordinate the approach and placement of emergency vehicles and personnel.”
From a public works perspective, Hursen noted snow-removal equipment could operate in a safer manner with an uphill approach on Manor Way as opposed to navigating the steep descent of Locust Drive.
Coyle said he was concerned about “reduced response times for fire apparatus.”
“A second access will help residents in the event of storms where they need to evacuate the area,” he added. “A single tree can make a road impassable for a significant amount of time, leaving multiple residents trapped in their neighborhood with no alternative way out.”
Residents of the neighborhood, though, have opposed additional access, citing among other issues the potential for traffic congestion on their relatively narrow streets.
Jason and Sherri Snyder, who own the Manor Way property the township intended to acquire, attended Monday’s council meeting to reiterate their position.
“I have signatures of every resident on my road, going up the road to Locust: The ones who don’t work for the township all signed it, stating they don’t want the road,” Jason Snyder said. “We don’t want it, and I’m fighting for them.”
Council member Frank Kosir Jr., who joined David Ball and James Berquist in voting for the declaration of taking, said the request did not emanate from Juniper Woods.
“There is no marketing benefit to the developer to have this connection go through,” he said.
Township manager Paul Lauer concurred.
“The fact of the matter is, this plan is selling quickly and in all likelihood, before that road is done, all of these lots will be sold,” he told council prior to the vote. “There’s a real market for the housing that they’re doing there.”
According to Heartland Homes’ website, only five Juniper Woods home sites remained for sale as of Tuesday. The site features five models of homes, with the lowest-priced listed “from $529,990.”