By Alice Crow
In the past eight months, Robinson resident Santo Bonadio has publicly expressed concerns with the property, occupants and ownership of the rental property located next door to his S. Petrie Road home to township commissioners a total of four times.
In addition to complaints about an abundance of pit bull dogs living on the property and the aftermath of a landslide currently under litigation and allegedly caused by the dumping of fi ll, Bonadio said he believes 94 S. Petrie Road operates as a multi-family home in an area zoned single.
Bonadio claims there are three units being rented at the property which violates the single-family ordinance for the area. The property consists of two houses with an enclosed connecting hall between them. There are three main doors to enter different parts of the property.
The property in question was purchased at auction by Edward and Margaret Vietmeier in 2012. The Vietmeiers were issued a notice of code enforcement in 2021 for having more than one family on the property in the singlefamily residential district. A letter in response to the code notification was then sent to the township by the Vietmeier’s lawyer in 2022.
“At the time of acquisition in 2012, the property was constructed and occupied as a three-unit building, housing two adults in the fi rst unit, a home-based dog grooming business in the second unit, and another adult in a separate third unit,” the letter reads.
Bonadio bought his neighboring property in 1997 and claims there was never another adult in the third separate unit.
Robinson Solicitor Jack Cambest says the matter is currently under investigation. “We need to see if this property is grandfathered in,” Cambest said. Evidence to prove the Vietmeier’s claims, compared to when the single-family ordinance was instituted, could mean that 94 S. Petrie Road is allowed to remain as a multi-family property despite the single-family residential area.
By the July Commissioner meeting, Cambest said he hopes to have more information, but Bonadio believes action on this is slow-moving due to politics.
“Let's not play the name game here. We all know who [owns the property],” Bonadio said during the June 6 township meeting.
“What really upsets me is the good old boy network,” he said. Bonadio claims the Vietmeier name and the connections the family has in the community is what is holding up action.
Commissioner Kenneth Kisow sided with Bonadio during the June 6 meeting, stating he had invited him to discuss his issues publicly with the commissioners.
“I asked Santo to come here,” he said, later adding that he is “disgusted that this is being dragged on.”
Bonadio also spoke out about the structure being dangerous after a 2018 landslide. He believes the house, clearly visible from Ewings Mill Road, on the edge of the hillside, is not stable.
The cause of the landslide is currently being argued in two court cases. Duquesne Light Company and the Municipal Authority of the Township of Robinson are both suing the Vietmeiers for damages accrued to their equipment due to the landslide. The claimed damages total more than $2 million.
Other defendants listed in the cases include Glenn Vietmeier (son of the Vietmeiers) and his company Country Club Gardens Landscaping, Inc., M. O’Herron Company, McClymonds Supply & Transit Co. Inc. and Dale McClymonds, Inc. who are accused of dumping debris with negligence.
The Vietmeiers and Country Club Gardens Landscaping were granted a permit to fi ll 499 cubic yards of clean fill on the property in October 2014. The permit was set to expire in October 2015.
In the lawsuits, MATR and DLC claim the Vietmeiers and the other defendants regularly dumped debris and organic materials, exceeding the permit’s limits, which caused the landslide and subsequent damage.
“They were dumping in 2016,” Bonadio said about the Vietmeiers, conferring with the claims in the lawsuits.
Contributing to the initial claims by plaintiffs, defendants have made cross-claims. Glenn Vietmeier joined the Township of Robinson to the DCL lawsuit by claiming that a 2005 ordinance put the township at fault for the dumping.
The 2005 ordinance provides that the Zoning Administrator “shall require a geotechnical engineering report to be submitted by the applicant if the site is, has been or is likely to be hazardous to personal property.” Glenn Vietmeier claims Robinson was aware of known landslides in the area near the property but issued the permit without requiring a report.
Additionally, Glenn Vietmeier claims the Township of Robinson used township vehicles to dump on the hill as well and without permission from his parents.
Despite these claims, Judge Phillip Ignelzi has discontinued Robinson as an additional defendant in the DCL lawsuit. However, the township may be brought back into the case if ongoing discovery yields relevant evidence.
The two cases were joined due to their similarity and to simplify the phase of discovery, which is their current status.
Too many dogs
“When I leave my house, I’m in fear,” Bonadio also said at the June 6 meeting, claiming that the occupants of the property own 10 pit bull dogs. He says the occupants allow their dogs to run loose without collars and teach them how to climb trees. Bonadio also told commissioners that he carries pepper spray while walking his own dog and can’t allow his 84-year-old mother to sit outside for fear of her safety.
Township officials were unsure if there was an ordinance limiting the number of pets on a property or that required a permit for a dog kennel. A dog kennel is any location where four or more dogs are kept for the purposes of breeding, training, boarding, grooming, sporting or sale.
“We can have the state come in and see what we can do,” Planning Director Rick Urbano said during the June 6 meeting. Township officials said they would contact the state for Bonadio while he worked with Urbano.
Bonadio has since been contacted by the Pennsylvania dog warden's office who told him there is no issue with the number of pets as long as the dogs remain on their property. However, five dogs were without licenses and the occupants would need to obtain them.
Edward, Margaret and Glenn Vietmeier did not respond to requests for comment for this story.