Second Route 980 hearing scheduled: McMurray PA Almanac, 8/22/07

Many of the [McMurray] residents who attended a public hearing Aug. 13 about changing a portion of Route 980 from residential to commercial said they were "in the dark" about development plans in that corridor.

Some said they were concerned about the possibility of eminent domain, while others worried about the traffic that may be created by a business moving into the area.

After more than an hour of discussion, Councilman George Coleman made a motion to deny the zoning change. Solicitor Pat Derrico quickly informed council that votes were not permitted at a public hearing.

When council convened its regular meeting, Councilwoman Jean Popp made a motion to table the item so another public workshop could be held. Councilman Joe Milioto seconded the motion, which was unanimously approved. No date for the workshop has been set.

Popp said Aug. 15 that she felt as though more information on both the developer and the project should be gleaned before a decision is made.

"We didn't have a lot of information," she said. "There were so many unknowns."

Popp added that the high turnout at the hearing and number of issues raised prompted her to make the motion.

"There were too many concerns," she said.

About 100 residents turned out to learn more about the possible zoning change, although borough Manager Terry Hazlett said Wednesday that much of the concern may be unfounded.

As for residents being "in the dark," he said little information is available regarding development on a piece of property owned by Angelo Falconi.

Hazlett said there is a proposal for a developer to build a small grocery store on the site, but that's all it is - a proposal.

"There is nothing to be in the dark about," he said.

And residents concerned that the borough would be able to seize their property via eminent domain? No worries, Hazlett said.

"The state has made it clear that you can't impose eminent domain haphazardly like they have in the past," he said. "Canonsburg Council itself is opposed to eminent domain, as is the Washington County Redevelopment Authority."

The borough has had the opportunity to seize property through eminent domain in the past and declined, Hazlett said.

Traffic, meanwhile, might actually improve if the area were commercially developed.

Council, he said, has tried repeatedly to gain approval for a stoplight in the area of Route 980 and Gladden Road.

"We have been turned down by (the state Department of Transportation) every time," Hazlett said, adding that traffic studies have not warranted a light at that intersection.

But, he said, a commercial development would increase traffic, which "would certainly warrant a light."

What's more, Hazlett said, is that the business moving into the area might be required to make traffic improvements that could include the installation of such a signal. And that would save Canonsburg some cash.

"Right now, the borough doesn't have $100,000 to put in that light, even if we had approval," he said.

Hazlett said the commercial designation also would help satisfy numerous requests for retail space in the borough

McMurray PA Almanac: http://www.thealmanac.net