McCandless residents fight township's approval of Wal-Mart store

Appeal says officials hurried Super Center proposal

Share with others:


Print Email Read Later

More than a dozen McCand­less res­i­dents are ask­ing a court to over­turn the town­ship’s de­ci­sion to ap­prove a Wal-Mart Su­per Center off of McKnight Road near North Park.

In an ap­peal filed in Al­le­gheny County Court of Com­mon Pleas on Thurs­day, 15 people al­lege town­ship of­fi­cials did not give residents enough time or in­for­ma­tion to eval­u­ate the com­plex pro­posal. They said the con­duct of town­ship of­fi­cials “has been ob­du­rate, vex­a­tious, in bad faith and con­trary to its … fi­du­ciary re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to its con­stit­u­ents.”

Dwight Fer­gu­son, their at­tor­ney, said one of the things the residents want to de­ter­mine is whether Wal-Mart con­trols the prop­erty where the pro­posed store would be lo­cated. He said doubts about that have been raised by a fed­eral court case in­volv­ing a real es­tate part­ner­ship that al­leges it was bank­rupted be­cause of Wal-Mart’s fail­ure to sign a land lease for the real es­tate.

“That’s a very fun­da­men­tal point worth ex­plor­ing,” Mr. Fer­gu­son said.

The town­ship’s at­tor­ney, Gavin Robb, did not re­spond to phone calls and emails seek­ing com­ment. Town­ship man­ager Toby Cordek could not be reached for com­ment. Wal-Mart could not be reached for com­ment.

McCand­less’ town coun­cil ap­proved plans for the 150,000-square-foot store on Bla­zier Drive at its July 28 meet­ing.

The res­i­dents in­volved in the suit ei­ther own prop­erty ad­ja­cent to the 23-acre site, live in the neigh­bor­hood or would be hurt by the store. In their ap­peal, they said Wal-Mart’s pro­posal does not con­tain any res­i­den­tial el­e­ment, which is re­quired based on how the prop­erty is zoned.

But their big­gest com­plaint is that town­ship of­fi­cials pro­vided very lit­tle in­for­ma­tion to residents in ad­vance of the July 28 vote.

They said the coun­cil never held a pub­lic hear­ing on the pro­posal, that Wal-Mart did not make a full pre­sen­ta­tion about the proj­ect to the full coun­cil or the pub­lic, and that the pub­lic was not pro­vided with any part of Wal-Mart’s ap­pli­ca­tion in ad­vance of the vote.

The town­ship also balked at right-to-know re­quests for the in­for­ma­tion made by their at­tor­neys and Giant Eagle’s at­tor­ney, Wil­liam Sit­tig, the res­i­dents said in court doc­u­ments. In each case, the town­ship asked for 30 ad­di­tional days to pro­vide the in­for­ma­tion, an ex­ten­sion that is al­lowed un­der the state’s sun­shine law.

Despite the res­i­dents’ re­quests for the in­for­ma­tion, coun­cil mem­bers re­fused to post­pone the vote “in com­plete dis­re­gard of the rights and in­ter­ests” of the sur­round­ing com­mu­nity, the ap­peal states.

The res­i­dents are ask­ing the court to al­low them to pro­vide more ev­i­dence once they re­ceive it from the town­ship and to ei­ther send the case back to the town coun­cil for re­con­sid­er­ation or to re­verse the town coun­cil’s de­ci­sion.


Len Bose­lovic: 412-263-1941 or lbose­lovic@post-ga­zette.com

Join the conversation:

Commenting policy | How to report abuse
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Commenting policy | How to report abuse

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here