Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on January 12, 1995 · Page 68
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January 12, 1995

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 68

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E-4 PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE B THURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 1995 nM r- s- i i s k i lAr-ri-ii s n r- i a k I r r- I II I J ll w r I l J rc r I M ll I J HEMPFIELD Housing development proposed for farm field TownshiD Municipal Authority and the Greater Greensburg Sewerage Authority, ...u:u ; ii;,t n Ua tUnf - PAUL ranging from 0.75 to 4 acres in size, and 44 are expected to be constructed in the first stage. Bryan said lots in that phase would sell for $60,000 to $120,000. Houses on 1-acre lots are expected to be priced from $250,000 to $375,000. On multiacre lots, the prices will ' start at $375,000. Dickerson said he could not disclose the' name of the company that probably would build the retirement-living center, which will be a nonprofit operation. "We're in negotiations now with a firm that intends to build a geriatric campus on the property. That, however, has not been legally consummated," he said. Dickerson said the geriatric campus would use about 34 acres to offer "a continuum of care," including a retirement village, assisted-living facility and long-term care for nursing home and Alzheimer's patients. Lindwood already has access to water, natural gas and electric service, Bryan said. Sewer service will be provided by the Hemp submitted. . Len Dellera, a Hempfield zoning officer, said most of the farm is zoned agricultural with a small portion zoned for business. Robert Bryan of Hempfield, Dickerson's consultant on the project, said he expected to return to the planning commission in two to three months to submit preliminary plans for approval. "We would not be developing the entire 480 acres," Dickerson said. About 100 will be 1 reserved for his family home and to provide " space for about 150 ostriches that he raises there. Dickerson is the head of Dickerson Enterprises of Youngwood, a bridge-building firm. He would not give a projected cost for the project, which will be developed over a 10-year period. Working with Dickerson on the project are land planners Fahringer McCarty and Grey Inc. of Monroeville. Single-family residences will be built on lots By Ernie Hoffman Post-Gazette Staff Writer A large portion of a Hempfield farm once known for its hundreds of beef cattle and more recently for its herd of ostriches will be turned into an upscale housing development complete with scenic walking trails, bridle paths and stable facilities, plus a separate retirement-living center. Conceptual plans for the development of Lindwood Farm along Route 119 north of Greensburg have been presented to the township planning commission by representatives of W. Logan Dickerson, whose family owns the 480-acre farm. ' "We're going through the planning and bureaucratic maze at this point," Dickerson said this week. "We hope to start infrastructure work late this year." A member of the planning commission, Linda Falcone, said the Lindwood Farm presentation was merely advisory, and that official preliminary plans had yet to be WIlll.il la installing a line uiai. win uuss Dickerson's property and make the project possible, Bryan said. The farm is owned by Dickerson; his wife, Ann; and his daughter, Linda, for whom it is named. At one time, Dickerson had more than 500 head of Charolais cattle that he raised there for beef. , But now the cattle are gone, and for the past four years he has been breeding ostriches, primarily to sell as breeding stock, although he is moving into the commercial market for food and leather. Dickerson said ostrich skin produces durable items such as boots and purses but that: 'You don't see it very often now because of its high cost. We need to get the cost down to where the consumer is wiling to pay the price." Gollege campaign garners $1 million PENN TOWNSHIP Commissioners say the changes are designed to manage the rapid growth that has occurred in the township over the past, several years. Farmers critical of residential zoning proposal MARTI NO Wife beaters, drug convicts need help For the conservative, lock-'em-up-and-throw-away-the-key crowd, Mark Wagner of Jeannette may be their 1995 poster prisoner. Wagner could certainly fuel the debate over treatment vs. incarceration. You know the arguments: liberals say drug addicts need treatment, that addiction is an illness. Conservatives argue that treatment is a waste of money, that drug addiction is a character flaw and that taxpayer money is better spent on building more cells to lock up the scum. Mark Wagner is a crack addict and alcoholic with a violent past. He's had drug treatment eight times. But he completed treatment only once while he was in prizon. Previously, he either walked out or was kicked out of the treatment programs. . When Wagner wasn't in drug treatment, he used crack cocaine in combination with alcohol. It was a high that he says would prompt him to beat up his live-in girlfriend, Melanie Good. Melanie tried to end her relationship with Mark. Three times she received a court-ordered protection from abuse order against Mark. But Mark would beg and Elead with Melanie, persuading er to take him back. But on March 17, 1993, Mark Wagner beat Melanie Good one more time. He has admitted to re- Eeatedly kicking her, slamming er head against the wall, standing on her chest and sitting on her stomach. He dumped water and beer on her face until she couldn't breath. He kicked her in the head, grabbed her by the hair and dragged her across the floor. An eyewitness quoted Mark as saying, "I hope you die." Mark's wish almost came true. It was 12 hours before she received medical attention; Melanie lived, but her injuries -1 are permanent She is blind in one eye, has lost her sense of smell, has trouble walking and keeping her balance, and has limited brain function. She is not able to live alone or to raise her two young daughters by herself. These painful facts came out earlier this month in Westmoreland County during testimony in Common Pleas Judge Debra Fez-ze's courtroom. Wagner, who had J. - I , , , mr " rtiw , i i ... i I V . . JrJK 4 ' ' By Ernie Hoffman Post-Gazette Staff Writer Bill Abraham recalled the perfect score that the Westmoreland County Community College Educational Foundation had when it first began soliciting money from potential contributors: "We sent out a hundred requests to foundations and philanthropists, asking for funds for the community college, and we got a hundred rejections.". But persistence over the past nine 'years has paid off: Abraham ' recently was presented with a check for $500,000 from the Richard King Mellon Foundation. That check, Abraham told an . assembly of educators and community and business leaders last week, is part of more than $1.16 million . already raised in the foundation's , $2,1 million capital campaign. Abraham, executive director of the foundation, spoke at the main campus in Hempfield during the kickoff of the public portion of the capital campaign. College President Daniel C. Kre-zenski said $1.5 million of the money would be used as part of the college's $6 million master plan for physical facilities, and that about t $100,000 would pay for consultants' fees and other overhead. The remaining $500,000 will be placed in an endowment fund to provide scholarships for needy students who don't qualify for other types of government assistance, Abraham said. By John B. Miller Penn Township officials spent several hours last week explaining to farmers why the township must rezone large amounts of agricultural land to permit more residential development. But despite the long, technical explanations, many farmers came away dissatisfied with the township's proposal . to rezone 1,165 acres. . ' ' ' The farmers say the rezoning could destroy their way of life. Chief among their reasons was that the change would place excessive restrictions on farm-life essentials, such as location of grazing space, storage facilities for machinery and manure, and the size or location of barns. They also warned of other problems, including higher taxes and conflicts with neighboring nonfarmers. The township scheduled last Thursday's meeting after more than 300 residents, many of them Robert J PavuchakPost-Gazette Penn Township Commissioner Bill Schaffer explains the proposed rezoning to farmers and property owners at Thursday's meeting. board of commissioners, said the changes, which include significantly larger lot sizes, the elimination of random zoning and a diffusion of development so that no area would become overgrown, are designed to manage the rapid growth that has occurred in the township over the' past several years. Zoning consultant Roberta Sar-raf told residents that the township must' re'zone; because developers could go to court to force the township to accommodate addition- al growth if it doesn't have enough residential property. Schaffer said such a situation allowed developers to build in places that the township considers detrimental, including in the middle of a group of farms. By putting the control of future growth in the township's hands and not in the hands of developers, the zoning changes protect fanners from that occurring, Schaffer said. Sarraf said her study of recent residential growth trends in the township led her to conclude that the township needed between 1,500 and 2,000 acres of residentially zoned land to accommodate that growth over the next 10 years. Some of that residential land already exists, Sarraf said. The rest would come from rezoning, she said. ently wouldn't protect farmers from unwanted development, as Schaffer asserted, but encourages it. "To me, it's just putting a big X on that area and saying, 'That's where we want you to come next,"' Wilson said. Despite the continuing complaints, Schaffer said the township has "a pretty good handle" on agricultural concerns. Another meeting will be scheduled to hear complaints from business owners, who say spreading business throughout the township will create unnecessary competition. , John B. Miller is a free-lance writer. Township solicitor Skip Mlakar recommended one change in the original proposal that would help: making farm activities a permitted use, rather than a special exception that would require farmers to , get permission every time they change the use of land. The distinction didn't seem to make much of a difference to Tom Wilson, who belongs to a group of 10 farming families that own a combined 300 acres and have banded together to oppose the proposed change. "That word permitted starts to come off as a real paternal type of word," he said. Wilson said the ordinance appar farmers, protested the proposed changes at a meeting last month. Commissioners and consultants who recommended the new zoning said the plan hadn't been explained well in the past and agreed to make several changes that they said would ease some of the farmers' worries. Bill Schaffer, chairman of the HEMPFIELD Fire marshal didn't violate ethics statute Supervisor Jed Yurt said a conflict of interest had the potential to occur "once or twice at the most" when a part-time fire code inspector will have to do an inspection. A part-time fire code inspector has been-budgeted for the last three years; but the position has not been utilized. The investigation began after a public meeting Sept. 11 when John L.. Mangini of Hempfield, president of ABS Fire Equipment Corp., charged that Reese was using his position as fire marshal to bolster his private business, which is in direct competition to his in conducting fire-safety classes. The supervisors conducted private sessions with Reese as well as seeking the opinion of the Ethics Commission. A statement from the Ethics Commission released Monday says that Reese, with an annual salary of $34,174, is considered a public employee, but that the law did not Erohibit public employees from usiness interests or activities outside of municipal employment. Other specific activities noted that would absolutely constitute a conflict of interest include use of , township facilities, supplies or personnel for the private business. This includes confidential information available through holding a public position. No evidence of this has been found by the supervisors. According to a written statement: "The board remains concerned as to possible future problems and conflicts, and those will be addressed as and when they arise." At the meeting, Mangini; ex pressed dissatisfaction with the findings. "The question is when does a client relationship end? I'm here as a citizen," said Mangini. "You're paying $34,000 for his salary, and now the taxpayer has to pay extra for a part-time inspector. "Reese gets pertinent information first. I welcome competition as long as it's on an even plane. Give up the fire marshal position, then we'll be competing on an even plane." Hempfield solicitor Daniel J. Hewitt said any commercial fire code plans received at the fire marshal's office were public infor? mation. "The Ethics Commission statement speaks for itself," said Hewitt. Rose Angotti is ' a free-lance writer. By Rose Angotti The Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission and the Hempfield board of supervisors have found no conflict of interest violation-with fire marshal William Reese operating a home-based security business, but the potential for conflict is there. Reese must now advise the board of any circumstance in which commercial plans are submitted for fire ' code inspection by a client of his personal business of RWJ Informational Services Inc. His private business sells security monitors, personal attack alarms and door protectors, as well as the preparation of emergency operations plans. Reese declined to comment after the supervisors' meeting Monday, but said he would issue a statement after consulting with his attorney. pleaded guilty to attempted murder and aggravated assault, was in a sentencing hearing. Melanie's father, Joseph George, sobbed as he told the court how his once attractive, active and athletic daughter sometimes forgets it's time for her children to go to school. Mark Wanger admitted his guilt but asked for a lenient sentence. His defense? A serious drug and alcohol problem. Judge Pezze didn't think much of the drug and alcohol defense. "Violent criminal behavior can be triggered by drugs or alcohol but that's no excuse. That's not a defense You're here as a defendant We're here for something greater than addiction." For his "utterly horrific, unforgivable and inexcusable" act, he would serve nine to 18 years in prison, well beyond standard guidelines for the crime. ' Now, if you think all of this is an argument against treatment for drug abusers, think again. Despite the horrendous nature of Wagner's crime, Westmoreland County's newly appointed district attorney says the Wagner case is an exception. John Peck has handled drug abusers and domestic-violence cases for a long time. He's been in the DA's office since 1981. And in Peck's opinion, not only should drug abusers be treated, but he also is seeking treatment for men who beat their domestic partners. Peck tells me that he believes - "treatment is effective." With more than 50 percent of the cases in the Westmoreland County DA's office related to drugs, Peck befieves "simply incarcerating people and not doing anything for them just brings the problem right back" when they get out of the joint. No one here is arguing that Mark Wagner should have gotten a lighter sentence. Wagner had eight chances to get help for his problem. He chose not to finish . his treatment It was a decision that has ruined his life and Melanie Good's life. But Mark Wagner is an exception. Many prosecutors like John Peck will tell us that we should not abandon drug-treatment programs merely based on bow one jerk responded or failefy to respond to professional help. The state is expected to finance about half of the master-plan costs, ! and Westmoreland County and the college about $766,000 each, Kre- zenski said. When the foundation was formed in 1986, Abraham said, "Nobody knew much about Westmoreland County Community College" and members of the foundation went about spreading the word through special events and personal contacts. "I spoke to 74 service clubs in one year Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, Jaycees . . . professional women's . associations. What we. were doing was selling the story of the commu-; nity college" Abraham said. "Westmoreland County Community College today is well-respected, well-thought-of, and provides a great, great service to this community." He noted how enrollment had doubled in a recent five-year span, and Krezenski said it was this larger enrollment - 6,400 to 6,500 that has necessitated the renovations included in the master plan. Krezenski outlined the major points of the master plan: $20,000 for lavatory facilities and enhancements to the campus baseball fields; $60,000 to build tennis courts; $2 million to buy a building and 15 or 16 acres of land from Powerex Inc., where the college plans a business and industry service center and facilities for associated activities;. $100,000 for walkways and lighting betwden the recently built Science Hall and Commissioners Hall. Also planned are more than $1.17 million in remodeling projects in Founders Hall and $1.1 million in Science Hall, including a 430-seat theater. Other projects total $1.07 million at the various education centers: Alle-Kiski in New Kensington, Mon Valley in Rostraver, Bushy Run in Penn Township and Laurel in Latrobe. Besides the Mellon gift, the campaign has received donations or pledges from: Alcoa Foundation, $88,000; Bell Atlantic, $5,000; the collegetrustees and foundation board, $40,000; Kennametal Foundation, $150,000; Robertshaw Charitable Foundation, $3,000; Southwest National Bank, $25,000; Supervalu, Pittsburgh Division, $50,000; Timken Foundation, $200,000; Eberly Foundation, $100,000; and Greensburg Foundation, $5,000. Neighbors make bus depot, chiropractor zoning cases By Rose Angotti Two groups of Hempfield residents are challenging the operation of two businesses, one a school-bus depot and the other a chiropractor's office. More than a dozen residents attended the township zoning hearing board meeting Tuesday to speak out on each issue. Residents, some of whom live in the Fox Ridge housing plan adjacent to the depot, presented a petition with 60 signatures of residents who they say are upset with Laidlaw Transit. The depot, which is used by buses and vans transporting Hempfield Area School District students, is on abouMwo acres of property along Peter j Jtoad owned by Gerald A. Ficco of Greensburrg.' Laidlaw began leasing the property in Octo ber, and nearby residents contend that the early morning noise from the diesel buses, fumes and speeding along the narrow road are "making life unbearable." The property is zoned for commercial use, and had been a truck terminal when Ficco bought it in 1985. Ficco requested and received in 1986 approval to use of the property as a woodworking shop to make shipping pallets. Ficco contends that a bus depot is permitted under the current zoning, and says if it isn't he wants a speical exception to allow it. The second issue involves whether chiropractor Gary Moore is a resident at the Cochran Drive location of his office, which was allowed as a home occupation 20 ydurs ago. Moore has a second office in Sarver. Residents asked for a hearing on Moore's operation because they charge that he doesn't live there and that it has become a commercial operation that generates too much traffic in a residential neighborhood. Other possible violations, involve the number of employees at the Cochran .location and the dispensing of vitamin supplements not produced on the premises. After the meeting, Moore said he had been searching for an alternative location for the last three years, but that two or three potential deals had not worked out. Moore said he had to stay in the Greensburg area because 60 percent of his practice is located in the area. The bgard has 45 days to rule on both cases. ztr r Rose Angotti is a free-lance writer.