Peters Township may sue owners over locked gate

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Several property owners in Peters may face a lawsuit by the township if they don't comply with a request to unblock part of Mount Blaine Drive.

Mount Blaine resident Ronald Nee told council Monday that part of his road was recently blocked with a locked gate. Mr. Nee said he has to unlock and open the long metal gate each day to see his son get off or on the school bus. He also expressed concern about how emergency vehicles would reach homes that have been blocked in.

At issue is a recent petition by about two dozen residents of the road, which requested the township take over the street and make improvements. Those residents agreed to be assessed a fee for the improvements.

Six residents, between Old Oak Road and Nevin Drive, objected to the petition and kept their portion of the road private. A private road is maintained by homeowners, including snow removal and paving.

Although the road is private, homeowners have no right to block it off, council members said.

"If it's on a recorded plan, anyone on the road has access to it," said council President Frank Arcuri, who is a lawyer. The housing plan includes about 39 lots and was developed about 45 years ago.

"I find it very distasteful that somebody would take it upon himself to inconvenience everybody else," Councilman David Ball said.

Solicitor John Smith said residents ordinarily would have to defend their own rights in court, but since the gate presents a potential safety hazard, the township will step in.

Mr. Smith will send a letter to the six property owners, demanding that the gate be taken down. If they don't comply before the Nov. 11 council meeting, members said, they would vote to take the group to court.

Also Monday, council voted 5-2 to enter into a new five-year contract with Waste Management for waste collection and mechanized collection of recyclables.

Waste Management submitted the low bid to the South Hills Area Council of Governments, a purchasing consortium of municipalities in the South Hills, for a contract from 2014 to 2018. In 2014, rates would start at $15.88 per month for each household, rising to $17.60 by 2018. Costs would be lowered if the township receives an anticipated recycling grant through the state Department of Environmental Resources.

Each household will be given a free cart next year, and mechanized collection is set to start in 2015. All types of recyclables can be placed in the cart.

Council spent significant time debating whether to continue with manual recycling collection -- in which a worker picks up a recycling bin and empties it into a truck -- or change to the more expensive mechanized version -- in which homeowners use a special cart that the truck can pick up with automated arms.

The benefits of mechanized collection include fewer injuries to Waste Management employees; the 65-gallon wheeled plastic carts are larger than the current recycling bins. The township's environmental quality board recommended use of the mechanized carts, which they believe will increase recycling.

In other local municipalities, use of the carts has resulted in less garbage thrown away and thus lower collection rates in future years, said Ryan Sallee, operations manager for Waste Management.

"The more opportunity you give people to recycle, the better participation you're going to get," Mr. Sallee told council. He said people frequently fill the smaller recycling containers then toss away the remainder with the trash.

After the contract ends, the township will own the universally accepted carts and can negotiate a collection contract with any hauler.

Mr. Arcuri, Mr. Ball and fellow council members Monica Merrell, Michael McCaig and James Berquist voted in favor. Gary Stiegel Jr. and Robert Lewis dissented. Mr. Lewis said he was concerned that the carts wouldn't be usable due to the sloping topography in the area.

Janice Crompton: or 412-851-1867.

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