Township takes control of land development, garbage and parking issues
By Jamie Wiggan
Stowe is moving to adopt its own subdivision and land-development ordinance that will give township officials control over planning issues previously overseen by the county.
A 45-day period where the public can review the draft ordinance began Oct. 13 and a final public hearing is due to take place after its conclusion in early December.
“This will now put it in our hands to make all decisions and approvals for the subdivisions and land developments that come, and the county will only come in as a reviewer,” said Township Engineer Veronica Bennett of KLH Engineers.
Until the ordinance is enacted, Bennett said the township is only empowered to enforce zoning regulations and has to defer to Allegheny County’s regulations on land development and sub-division.
Land development refers to any significant improvements to a property, such as erecting a new building or adding to an existing one. Subdividing is the process of splitting an existing land parcel into two or more smaller parcels.
In cases where Pennsylvania municipalities do not have their own subdivision and land development ordinances, authority on these issues passes to the county by default.
During the township’s Oct. 13 meeting, President Robin Parilla said Valley Waste Service representatives had pledged to do a better job of cleaning and maintaining an empty lot on Dohrman Avenue which the company uses to transfer waste between vehicles.
Parilla’s remarks followed complaints voiced by two residents whose home sit along the boundary of the vacant lot.
“Garbage trucks park next to our house every Thursday,” said Alisha Holmes of 813 Dohrman Ave. “It’s noisy and disgusting.”
Robert Baltimore, who lives at the same address, said the garbage sometimes spills onto their property, preventing their children from playing in their yard.
Parilla said he had met with a Valley representative just the prior week, asking him to address the problem.
“He told me for this week they have some kind of chemicals that they’re gonna put down when they come down to kill the smell, and also pick up the debris.” Parilla said. “…We gotta give him a fair shake — he said he was going to do this.”
Valley uses the lot — which is owned by the township — to transfer waste from the smaller vehicles that access the narrow streets of Stowe’s Norwood neighborhood to the regular refuse trucks.
Township officials said the Dohrman lot is the only suitable space for this weekly procedure. The commissioners voted the following evening to approve a new contract with Valley for trash and recycling services in 2021.
Parilla said no other companies placed bids for the contract.
Disabled resident Violet Bateman said she has recently resorted to calling the police after finding herself unable to exit her car on several occasions.
Bateman, who lives on McKinnie Street in Norwood, said her neighbors frequently park over yellow lines and sometimes block the sidewalk.
“I don’t understand why there’s no one out there checking on this stuff handing out tickets,” she said during the township’s agenda review meeting Oct. 12.
During the following night’s meeting, Commissioner Cheryl McDermott reported that road crews had begun repainting fading street markings around the area of Bateman’s property.
Parilla said there is an ordinance provision on the books that bans parking along the left side of the street, however, he said it hadn’t been enforced in recent years and should not be reapplied without consulting residents.
“It’s Little Italy up there,” he said. “We have to have a conversation with these people, because we haven’t enforced that ordinance in a long time.”