Site plan approved for Ross development

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Work will begin this spring on the first two phases of a 300 unit housing development on the site of the former Highland Country Club.

Ross commissioners unanimously approved a site plan Monday for the first two phases of the development, which will consist of 134 single-family homes and 167 townhouses.

The first phase will be 12 townhouses on Highland Avenue near Gass Road. The second phase will be an 18-lot subdivision for single family homes near the intersection of Gass and Peony roads, said Jonathan Kamin, an attorney representing Limerick Land Partners.

Two of the three entrances to the plan will be built in those phases. One entrance, across from the intersection of Highland Avenue and Peony Road, was questioned by Commissioner David Mikec who wanted to know why the entrance drive does not line up with Peony.

Caleb Tebon, a traffic engineer for the project, said the entrance road is wider because of a turnoff with mailboxes for the complex. Situating all mailboxes in one place is required by the post office for large new developments, he said, adding that the right lane of the entrance road lines up with Peony.

Limerick has not yet received a highway occupancy permit from the state Department of Transportation. Site plan approval is required before the permit can be issued.

Commissioners had rejected the plan in April 2013 after more than 80 residents complained about traffic the development would produce. Limerick appealed to Allegheny County Common Pleas Court and a judge granted temporary approval Dec. 31.

Mr. Kamin told commissioners that the site plan complied with all the conditions in Judge Joseph James’ order, and also complies with the township's new construction standards. The planning commission has unanimously approved the site plan. 

Highland Country Club closed in October 2011.

In other action, commissioners hired McLean Architecturals to design a new public works building.

They also voted to purchase an Aries Pathfinder camera truck for $163,963 through a state program. The camera truck will be used to film sewers, a service now provided by an outside contractor.

Mike Funk, public works director, said the department will spend the first year getting used to the truck by filming storm sewers, so they will continue to use Insight Pipe Contracting to film sanitary sewers, which is required by a consent order with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Commissioners also asked Solicitor Bonnie Brimmeier to draft an ordinance giving commissioners the authority to appoint a solicitor for the Civil Service Commission. Commissioner Dan DeMarco said they do not approve of the commission’s solicitor, Michael Sherman, citing erroneous scores on the police hiring test last year that were discovered by former Commissioner Peter Ferraro.

It is the role of the solicitor for the civil service commission to make sure those scores are accurate, Mr. DeMarco said. “Those scores, those erroneous scores, were not only the commission’s fault, but also the fault of the solicitor,” he said.

Also, he said, First Class Township Code gives commissioners the right to approve of any additional counsel hired by a township board or commission. Ross commissioners had, in the past, allowed boards to hire their own counsel.

Commissioners also approved a site plan for David Bohn, who wants to build a one-story storage building on land adjacent to his auto body shop on Babcock Boulevard.

They also hired Christopher Brian McDonald as a program specialist for the recreation department at an annual salary of $36,000, plus benefits. This is a new position.

Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer:

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