South Fayette commissioners admitted at their Sept. 12 meeting that they were not accustomed to running the proceedings without the help of a township manager.
The board accepted the resignation of interim township manager La Verne Diggs due to personal family issues. Miles “Butch” Truitt will serve in the role in the meantime, more as a means of necessity than anything.
Truitt was named as the public works director in 2014 and previously served the township as parks and recreation director.
“Everything will be fine,” Truitt said after the meeting, adding that the township has a good staff and “everything should run smoothly.”
Diggs was selected for the interim role in April ahead of the departure of Ryan Eggleston. Diggs indicated then that she had no interest in serving as a permanent replacement.
Commissioners, despite Diggs’ absence, thanked her for her help over the last few months.
“Without her, this would have been much more difficult. I wish her and her family get through these hard times,” Joseph Horowitz said.
“She really had done a lot for this township, even prior to her sitting in as interim manager – often in a volunteer role –so we just think about her and her family right now and wish her well,” said Lisa Malosh.
A somewhat related ordinance was approved to allow for additional deposit account signatories as a result of Diggs’ absence.
Malosh said commissioners were “aggressively working through the leadership change.”
In other moves at the township’s regular meeting, representatives from the Newbury Market development were on hand to provide an update on the progress of projects.
Brett Malky, president of EQA Landmark Communities and Newbury’s developer, said that with the likes of Topgolf and Carvana, the development was attracting companies that had never been in Pennsylvania.
Jared Imperatore, vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle retail brokerage, said that a rock climbing facility and pet hotel should sign leases next week, with a family entertainment tenant soon to come. The three newcomers, along with Topgolf, would serve as anchors for the development. For Newbury’s main street, Imperatore said he is in various stages with an ice cream parlor, cell phone store, waxing, massage, fitness center, as well as a restaurant and taproom.
Imperatore’s announcement elicited claps from the commissioners.
Eric Newhouse, project manager, said that construction at the southbound exit ramp at Interstate 79 was in progress to widen it for an additional left turn lane onto westbound Route 50 to Newbury. The same contractor is set to widen Washington Pike approaching the Route 50 intersection. The improvements to both intersections should be finished before the end of the current paving season.
“We are on track to be beginning construction on additional key components within Newbury as we come out of the upcoming winter season, so 2019 will be a bevy of activity on the site. Obviously, we’re all excited to see that happen,” Newhouse said.
Newhouse said an architecture firm was preparing design work for the proposed buildings and hoped to have visualizations to share at the meeting, but they were not completed in time.
“Thanks for being patient with us. We really appreciate it. We’ll keep you posted,” Malky concluded.
A bid for recycling and garbage services from the South Hills Area Council of Governments was tabled. Mike Christ from Waste Management was on hand to answer questions about the automated collection of trash. The new system, which is currently used to collect recycling, would use garbage trucks equipped with mechanical arms that would pick up bins and empty its contents into the truck, requiring fewer workers.
“It’s the way to go and things are only going to get better,” Christ said of the process. “With your growth, we were always catching up.”
Commissioner Gwen Rodi expressed concerns with “excessive” service issues that had not been addressed. She said when automated trucks are used to collect recycling, debris flies from the containers and residents are left to clean up the mess.
A “truth in advertising” ordinance was adopted. Commissioners of the board said at the last regular meeting that the goal was for businesses within South Fayette to properly identify as such on signage or other media. The verbiage in the ordinance indicates that using the incorrect municipality can cause confusion with emergency personnel response.
The adoption of a traffic impact ordinance was tabled due to a lack of prior advertising. The board hoped to address the motion at its subsequent meeting.
The next regular meeting, originally scheduled for Oct. 10, was moved to Oct. 17 at the request of solicitor Robert Garvin due to a schedule conflict.