Summerbrooke developers skirt around buffer plan

August 22, 2013
Residents of the Summerbrooke housing development in North Strabane Township have been complaining that trees were cut down between development sites, affecting homes along Blossom and Fugi drives. - Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

North Strabane Township supervisors will vote on the Summerbrooke development’s final site plan next week, but some indicated they might leverage their voting power to compel Summerbrooke developers to restore a buffer on the property.

Frustration levels were high at the non-voting meeting Tuesday as supervisors and residents alike complained that Summerbrooke developers have not restored a planted buffer more than four months after trees were torn down by developers of the neighboring Majestic Hills. Township ordinance requires a 35-foot planted buffer on the Summerbrooke side between the Summerbrooke and Majestic Hills developments.

Summerbrooke’s final site plan was recommended for approval by the planning commission, but township Manager Frank Siffrinn told supervisors they should consider voting the plan down if developers still refuse to comply with township ordinance and restore the buffer.

“I think the board needs to give some consideration that we might want to withhold final approval of the planning until we get some response from the developer and, more importantly, get some cooperation,” Siffrinn said.

For weeks it was unclear which developer was responsible for planting a new buffer, but ultimately it was determined that Summerbrooke developers would be responsible for planting a buffer of trees on their side.

“(Summerbrooke developers) are still resistant to planting any buffer, so I think we just need to hold their feet to the fire and not release any bonds until this buffer issue is resolved,” said township engineer Joe Sites. “We’ve been talking about this for months.”

Vice Chairman Jeff Stanley said Summerbrooke cannot delay any longer because there is only a 90-day window for the buffer to be planted before winter weather sets in.

Brian Cupp, who lives in the Summerbrooke community, told supervisors that he thinks developers might be shirking responsibility. Cupp said there is only one school bus stop in the development, at the intersection of Poplar Street and Gala Drive, and that it should be partly the developer’s job to add more stops.

“My kids have quite a hike to get to and from that stop, and I’m more concerned about their safety than anything else,” Cupp said. “I don’t get the impression that the developer is very cooperative.”

Siffrinn said ownership of the streets in Summerbrooke has not been turned over to the township, and that could pose a hazard for bus drivers, especially in the winter when developers might not clear roads of snow as quickly as the township would.

Siffrinn also noted that an agreement has been reached between the Summerbrooke Homeowners Association and Summerbrooke developers that requires the association to construct a clubhouse and pool or similar recreational facility in the community.

Emily Petsko joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in June 2013. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor's degree in journalism and global cultural studies.

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