A new residential development near the southeastern corner of Upper St. Clair has received tentative approval from township commissioners.
The 10-acre Willowbrook Estates planned residential development calls for 15 new single-family homes off Willowbrook Road and Oaklawn Drive. Plans include building an extension from Willowbrook as a private street and connecting the northern and southern portions of Oaklawn.
The commissioners’ action Monday came two months after the plan last was presented before the board, during a public hearing in June. Owners of neighboring properties have expressed concerns about the impact of the development on storm-water runoff.
Kim Gales of engineering firm J.R. Gales and Associates, representing developer Allen Sherwood, said revisions to the plan address those issues.
“We took a lot of time and worked with (township) staff to try to come up with the best resolution to control as much as we could on the site,” she told commissioners.
Among the measures is increasing the size of the water detention pond on the Willowbrook Estates property to handle greater flow.
“This is oversized for what is draining from our development, to try to discharge less into the existing piping,” she explained. The pond will hold excess water following a storm, then release it slowly.
The plan previously included on-lot detention systems for individual properties. That no longer is the case.
Another revision is an underground storage system to be built of approximately 535 feet of 48-inch pipe, Gales said.
Some residents, though, continued to question the effectiveness of the proposed storm-water management.
William Weaver of Willowbrook Road told commissioners he already is encountering runoff problems, and he showed photos of his inundated property in the wake of a July rainstorm.
“That’s not a hundred-year flood,” said Weaver, who also addressed the board at previous hearings. “That happens a number of times during the year.”
After learning about the revisions to the plan, he said, “I do feel better about this drainage system, although I’m still not 100 percent convinced.”
Commissioner Russell Del Re expressed confidence in the drainage system’s effectiveness.
“This plan, as it’s shown here, should vastly improve the condition,” he told Weaver.
Gary Del Bianco, another Willowbrook Road resident who has regularly attended hearings on the matter, expressed concern about the underground storage component.
“What happens if you have mine subsidence and that huge pipe breaks?” he asked. “Who’s responsible, and who comes and bails us out? What was the matter with the individual tanks? That’s an awful lot of water that you’re bringing to that area.”
Gales, whose specialty as an engineer is storm-water management, gave the opinion that the overall system “would be easier to maintain than each individual owner. This is actually much more expensive for the developer to do.”
Charles Altopiedi, who lives on Oaklawn Drive, said he worries about water flowing to “the lowest point, which is us.”
He also spoke about the connection between the two portions of his street.
“You may not have heard anything from the folks on Oaklawn Drive, but they’re certainly not happy about that. It’s going to cause a great deal of traffic.”
Del Re joined commissioners Robert Orchowski, Nicholas Seitanakis and Donald Rectenwald Jr. in voting for the tentative approval. Opposed were Mark Christie, Glenn Dandoy and Daniel Paoly.