Finleyville Airport tree lawsuit settlement pending

November 8, 2013
Trees at the end of Finleyville Airport’s runway have been a matter of dispute for years. - Mike Jones / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

An end appears in sight to a long and costly legal battle Union Township waged with the mother of a local township supervisor to force her to remove trees on her property that created a hazard at an airport runway.

Washington County Judge Katherine B. Emery on Thursday ordered the township to file an order before the court within five days settling the case against Mary Parish in a legal battle that has cost taxpayers more than $70,000 since 2005.

“I hope for the sake of the taxpayers this is the end,” said township supervisors Chairman Linda Evans-Boren.

The township sued Parish to force her to remove the trees at the privately owned Finleyville Airport to comply with state and federal laws requiring a clear path to runways.

The township returned to court Thursday after learning Parish hadn’t used the $14,000 it set aside to cut the trees to pay the tree service for the work performed in May. Parish, whose son, Steve, is a longtime supervisor in Union, apparently thought the money belonged to her and not the tree service.

Emery’s ruling instructs Parish’s attorney to release the money from an escrow account to Wolfgang Timber of Venetia, the record shows. Wolfgang is then instructed to turn around and pay Parish the same amount.

Evans-Boren said it then will be up to Wolfgang to seek payment for the work from Parish, but the transfer of funds will give the township documentation of how the money was spent, for auditing purposes.

“After all these years, it’s hard to believe this is almost over,” she said.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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