Judge orders gate on private road to be removed

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A Washington County judge ruled that a gate blocking a portion of Mt. Blaine Drive in Peters Township must be removed, and that the gate cannot be reconstructed without court approval.


Washington County Common Pleas Judge Valarie Costanzo issued the order Thursday after hearing arguments from representatives for Peters Township and the individuals who constructed the gate.


Peters Township took legal action against Jordan Russell, 103 Mt. Blaine Drive; Gary and Rita Meyer, 101 Mt. Blaine; Gunther and Virginia Kaier, 104 Mt. Blaine; Doran and Olga Mauldin, 105 Mt. Blaine; and Ray and Martha Moffitt, 199 Old Oak Road, after the township learned of the gate in October 2013.


The property owners, who live along a private portion of the road and have an agreement to maintain the road, erected the gate because of what they claimed was excessive traffic and speeding. They were hoping the unlocked gate would deter drivers, court document said.


The residents claim they contacted police and Peters Township Council about the increased traffic and speeding prior to erecting the gate, court documents said. However, Peters Township officials said they were not made aware of the gate until an October 2013 council meeting, when an area resident complained, court records said.


Peters Township claimed the gate violates the township’s Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance, violates the Municipal Planning Code and caused delays for residents and emergency personnel, court records said.


Mike Silvestri, the township manager, said he understood the residents’ concerns, but he said the gate created potential safety problems and inconveniences for other area residents. He said the gate will more than likely remain until the defendants’ appeal timeline has passed.


“We were hoping to find a better solution, but we are pleased with the outcome,” Silvestri said.


The gate is constructed of galvanized pipe supported by two six-foot posts, and was initially kept locked. The defendants later unlocked the gate but left a chain and lock on one of the posts, court documents said.


Emmanuel Anthou, the attorney for the residents, said he and his clients will be appealing the decision.


“My clients are disappointed,” he said. “This case is far from over.”


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