Two sides hope to work out truck-traffic tiff

At­tor­neys rep­res­ent­ing res­id­ents of the Foun­tain Pointe con­domin­i­um com­plex and the own­er/de­veloper of a site that houses a new busi­ness took part in a some­times-heated court hear­ing last week, but they began work­ing on a pos­sible com­prom­ise in a City Hall cor­ridor.

Foun­tain Pointe is at 9200 Blue Grass Road, while Penn Jer­sey Pa­per moved in­to new headquar­ters earli­er this year at 9355 Blue Grass Road. Res­id­ents have con­cerns about tract­or-trail­er traffic en­ter­ing and ex­it­ing the com­pany’s prop­erty. The 48-year-old com­pany, most re­cently loc­ated at 2801 Red Li­on Road, opened a 255,336-square-foot dis­tri­bu­tion cen­ter in May.

Condo own­ers con­tend they didn’t know any­thing about the pro­ject un­til res­id­ent Mar­vin Shen­k­man spoke with In­ter­na­tion­al Broth­er­hood of Elec­tric­al Work­ers Loc­al 98 busi­ness agent Ray Del­lavella, who was pick­et­ing daily with a gi­ant in­flat­able rat.

Loc­al 98, which had con­cerns about wages paid to the elec­tric­al con­tract­or, hired at­tor­ney George Bochetto to rep­res­ent the neigh­bors.

The city De­part­ment of Li­censes and In­spec­tions is­sued a build­ing per­mit, though Bochetto ar­gues that de­veloper DP Part­ners did not post a no­tice for 30 days in a con­spicu­ous place, as the law re­quires. “The post­ing was de­fi­cient. Nobody saw it. No one can see it from the road. They had no idea this was tak­ing place,” the at­tor­ney said.

Bochetto, a former state box­ing com­mis­sion­er, ex­plained that the condo as­so­ci­ation suffered “a split-de­cision loss” in an earli­er 2-2 vote of the Zon­ing Board of Ad­just­ment. Car­ol Tin­ari and Sam Staten sided with neigh­bors, while chair­wo­man Lynette Brown-Sow and Peter Gonzales backed the busi­ness.

Neigh­bors ap­pealed, and both sides ap­peared on Sept. 21 in front of Com­mon Pleas Court Judge Paul Pan­epinto.

Bochetto de­scribed Blue Grass Road as a busy, nar­row two-lane street. “No shoulders, no side­walks,” he said of the area in ques­tion.

There are oth­er com­mer­cial, in­dus­tri­al and res­id­en­tial uses in the area, and speed bumps slow the pace of traffic.

Bochetto said the Penn Jer­sey Pa­per space had been three lots that were con­sol­id­ated in­to one. It in­cludes 40 bays for tract­or-trail­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to a traffic study, the com­pany’s open­ing has res­ul­ted in 1,100 more vehicles on the road each week­day.

At this point, Bochetto is not ar­guing for a tear­down.“I think that train has left the sta­tion,” he said. “The build­ing is built.”

Del­lavella, though, has a dif­fer­ent view. “The build­ing should come down,” he said.

Bochetto has sug­ges­ted a couple of rem­ed­ies, in­clud­ing a court de­cision pro­hib­it­ing left turns in­to the pa­per com­pany site. A bet­ter out­come for neigh­bors would be for the trucks to enter at an ex­ist­ing traffic light on Grant Av­en­ue. That en­trance already ac­com­mod­ates vehicles for two truck­ing firms, a bever­age dis­trib­ut­or and a con­crete plant.

Alicia Hick­ok and Jer­ald Good­man, of the law firm Drink­er Biddle, rep­res­en­ted DP Part­ners, which leases its ground to Penn Jer­sey. Hick­ok told Pan­epinto that the ori­gin­al ap­peal was un­timely and mer­it­less. She ad­ded that the post­ing for the build­ing per­mit was ap­pro­pri­ate and that it should have been ob­vi­ous that something was go­ing on at the site.

“The pick­eters were on the prop­erty from Oc­to­ber on,” she said.

Hick­ok ar­gued that only the city De­part­ment of Streets should be able to de­term­ine wheth­er trucks should be pro­hib­ited from turn­ing in­to the plant off Blue Grass Road.

Bochetto fa­vors a court rul­ing, dis­miss­ing the De­part­ment of Streets as “slow and in­ef­fec­tu­al.”

Hick­ok cited 8th Po­lice Dis­trict fig­ures that showed no in­crease in the num­ber of ac­ci­dents dur­ing or after con­struc­tion.

Des­pite the dif­fer­ences, both sides seemed will­ing to com­prom­ise.

“They have every right to come to us to dis­cuss it with us,” Hick­ok said.

Af­ter­ward, Del­lavella and the at­tor­neys dis­cussed the mat­ter out­side the courtroom and have more time to come to an agree­ment, since Pan­epinto said he would give them 30 days. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­

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