With the primary election coming up and my daughter graduating from college in Massachusetts this weekend I’ve been crazy busy, so this will be a single jam-packed post rather than the two that I intended to do this past week.
At the Council meeting last Tuesday, the main topic was the proposed Long Range Comprehensive Plan. The committee that created the plan began its work in 2007, and Jeff Pierce, of Olsen & Associates, LLC reviewed the process that was used to create the plan and highlighted some of the key issues. Of particular interest was the discussion about the intersection of Fox Chapel Road, Old Freeport Road, and Freeport Road, and the Route 28 interchange. Since the last comprehensive plan 10 years ago conditions have changed considerably, and significant zoning changes will need to be made in order to implement the recommendations included in the Plan.
The executive summary is now online and I recommend that everyone spend some time looking through it. Copies of the complete plan are available at the Township offices, but you can’t take one home, you can only look at it during office hours. I’ve asked several times if the entire plan could be made available online, but have been told that it’s “too big.” I’m not accepting that argument: if we can put a 53-page executive summary online, we ought to be able to make the other 11 chapters available, each as a separate document if necessary. Call the Township office and let them know if you agree with me that it’s inexcusable in 2011 to insist that residents must get their information from a physical book that can only be used in a particular location. I’ve had a chance to leaf through the entire Plan, and there’s some fascinating information in there that seems a shame to keep generally unavailable to the public. If I were on Council right now I’d be suggesting not only that we put the entire plan online (and make it visible — I’ll challenge anyone to find it on the Township web site) and have copies available in the Township office, but that we also place copies at the library. This is public information, and important information at that, and it needs to get the widest possible exposure. Council will continue to review it over the next several months with an eye towards approving it sometime in the fall. Hopefully we’ll hear some good discussion and have several public meetings before then.
On Saturday morning I attended the second of two “Town Hall Council Meetings” to discuss the Saxonburg sanitary sewer project. This was an excellent meeting with a great deal of useful information presented and good give and take between Council and the residents. This sewer project has about a 20 year history and has been through several iterations. To make a long story shorter, the original focus was to take the sewage down Saxonburg Blvd. to Route 8. Unfortunately that turns out to be an extremely expensive and disruptive job that would also require a complicated four-party agreement, so over the years the affected Townships have been reluctant to take on the project. But at this time something needs to be done: O’Hara’s three existing pump stations in this area are now nearing their end of life and will not support any further development in the area.
The option being discussed is to create a single large pump station that will replace all three of the old stations and pump the sewage up to Dorseyville Rd. and over the hill to Pleasant Valley. Even without participation from Indiana Township (who has not yet responded to O’Hara’s proposals), the cost of this option should be manageable. Homes within 250 feet of the line will be required to tap in, and there will be an additional assessment for the tap in addition to the basic assessment. We won’t know what the new assessments will be until the bids are in and we find out what grants are available and whether the Deer Creek Drainage basin will participate. Assessments will be based on the number of homes that could be built and the longest possible timeframe under the State special tap provisions so that any new homes built would pay the same assessment as existing homes. There will be a variety of payment options and reduced assessment options based on income. Indiana residents who have inquired about tapping in have been told that they will be able to do so if they can get their flow to the new station. Easements will be required, and the Township plans to offer financial assessments to residents who sign easement agreements by an established deadline.
The plan is to start getting easement agreements signed next month with public meetings this summer and in the early fall. Ideally the Township would solicit bids in late fall with a four month lead time and plan to start construction in the spring of 2012. The project will take 12 to 18 months to complete.
I’m not aware of any written information about this project, so if you would like to know more, call the Township offices during business hours or speak to your Council representative.
Finally, there’s a public hearing and Township Council meeting tomorrow evening starting at 7pm. The public hearing is to discuss a plan by Fox Chapel Marine to replace their temporary boat maintenance structure with a more permanent structure. The agenda of the Council meeting is unremarkable aside from a first reading “Amending and Restating Ordinance No. 1219 in its Entirety Enacting and Establishing Rules and Regulations for the Use of Township Park and Recreation Facilities.” I’m hoping it’s not more about whether we ought to allow pot-bellied pigs to be walked in the parks, but you never can tell. It’s only a first reading, so residents haven’t been privileged to see the new amendments and restatements.
I won’t be able to attend the meeting tomorrow, and my entire family of substitute note-takers is also committed elsewhere, so if there’s anyone out there who would like to send me an update for this blog, I’d be happy to post it. It will take at least for weeks for the minutes to be approved, and I’m not sure I could find them on the Township web site after that, so it’s best to be there in person.