More than a dozen McCandless residents are asking a court to overturn the township’s decision to approve a Walmart Super Center off McKnight Road near North Park.
In an appeal filed in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Thursday, 15 citizens allege township officials did not give citizens enough time or information to evaluate the complex proposal. They said the conduct of township officials have been “obdurate, vexatious, in bad faith and contrary to its [sic] fiduciary responsibilities to its constituents.”
Dwight Ferguson, their attorney, said one of the things the citizens want to determine is whether Wal-Mart controls the property where the proposed store would be located. He said doubts about that are 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, and Dusty Elias Kirk, the attorney for Wal-Mart Real Estate Business Trust, did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment. Township manager Toby Cordek 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 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 citizens 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 to consider that evidence or to reverse the town council’s decision.
Len Boselovic: 412-263-1941 or firstname.lastname@example.org