Bedner's Farm Developers to Take Another Look at Bower Hill Entrance
Commissioners and residents think a Bower Hill Road entrance to the proposed Bedner Estates neighborhood would ease traffic. Developers say it's nearly impossible.
Upper St. Clair and Bridgeville residents sent a strong message to the Upper St. Clair commissioners and the developers of the proposed Bedner's Farm neighborhood—they're worried about the increased traffic and safety issues the residential plan could cause.
The first public hearing on the plan was held in an overflowing board of commissioners' meeting room at the Upper St. Clair municipal building on Monday night and will be continued on March 5.
The developers—Heartland Homes and JT Thomas Homes—are proposing to build 136 single-family homes on Bedner's Farm. The plan—as proposed Monday night—has three neighborhood entrances. Traffic could enter the neighborhood using the existing Scarlett Drive or a new entrance on Cook School Road. Later on in the plan, the developers said they would build a connection to Main Street in Bridgeville.
Upper St. Clair and Bridgeville residents and some of the commissioners expressed the need for the developer to further investigate a connection to Bower Hill Road.
"We already deal with excessive speeding and traffic from Upper St. Clair," said Cee Cee McNulty, a Main Street resident in Bridgeville.
She told commissioners the Bridgeville streets along the proposed development, such as Main Street, are narrow residential streets with on-street parking.
"The best solution is a direct connection from Cook School to Bower Hill," she said.
"You will ruin your neighboring community if you don't make the connection to Bower Hill," said Rich Goedel, a Ridge Road resident in Bridgeville.
"I request the developer revisit the Bower Hill connection again," Upper St. Clair Commissioner Mark Christie said.
He said McMillan and Cook School Roads are always busy.
"To add to that kind of volume, I think you need to revisit that (the Bower Hill connection). It (the development) has to have a positive value on properties," Christie said.
Kim Gales, representative of the developers, said they dropped the plan for a Bower Hill entrance last summer after "extensive studies." She said the only land they own along Bower Hill Road is too steep. If they could buy the land near the Bedner's Farm Market (which will remain despite the sale of the Bedner's farmland) or from a different private owner of the land along Bower Hill, the road would have to be built on a mine.
"We do not want to take on the liability," Gales said.
She said the roadwork would require "moving 1 million cubic yards of dirt," blasting of "a substantial amount of rock," could cause "acid mine seepage" and other environmental issues with a stream and removal of trees.
In addition, the road would be steeper than Cook School Road at a 12 percent grade, according to Gales.
However, Gales did indicate that the developers would revisit the possibility of a Bower Hill connection.
As for the construction timeframe, developers are planning on three phases. The first phase would be completed in 2014-15, the second in 2017 and the final phase in 2020.
The neighborhood would feature three types of homes. The higher-end homes would sell for about $750,000 to $1 million. The second type of houses would go for $500,000 to $700,000. The lower-end homes in the neighborhood would sell for $300,000 to $400,000.
Matt Cramer, of Heartland Homes, said there is a need for new homes in Upper St. Clair in the $300,000 to $400,000 range. Cramer and his team are requesting the commissioners allow smaller-sized lots for about 37 of the lower-end homes.
"When I look at it (the plan), it looks like you've crammed as many lots in it as possible," Commissioner Daniel Paoly said.
The Upper St. Clair Planning Commission voted to recommend the Bedner's Farm plan as presented with the Main Street connection in December.
Due to the concern Bridgeville residents and officials have expressed, the developers scheduled a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 22 at the Bower Hill Fire Hall in Bridgeville.
During public comment, many residents brought up concerns about the intersection at Cook School and McMillan Roads. Later on during the commissioners' meeting, Upper St. Clair Township Manager Matthew Serakowski told commissioners that PennDOT recently studied the intersection. PennDOT engineers told township officials that the intersection did not warrant a traffic signal or four-way stop signs. Upper St. Clair Public Works employees are currently looking for ways to increase sight distance at the intersection.
New Upper St. Clair commissioner Donald Rectenwald, Jr. recused himself from the discussion and future vote due to a potential business conflict. Rectenwald is the president of Rex Glass & Mirror Company.
What are your thoughts and concerns about the proposed Bedner's Farm development? Share with your local officials and neighbors in the comments section.