Estates at Eagle Ridge ( put on notice

| 29 Sep 2011 | 08:23

    Seeking redress: For six months, we brought our concerns about Buist Road to Dingman Township. We firmly believe that the road is substandard and its present geometry will put us in harms way because of the Eagle Ridge subdivision. The 860% increase in traffic with the addition of large construction vehicles and a school bus go way beyond the safety limits of this road. The Dingman Township Planning Commission believed in the validity of our concerns. They rejected the Eagle Ridge traffic experts’ arguments. However the Dingman Supervisors did not, and voted in favor of the road use as is with no remediation. For us to contest this in court with our own traffic expert it would cost us approximately five grand. Since the system and laws are tilted towards the developer and his deep pockets, our chances for a favorable outcome are slim. That is why we sought redress at the county and state level. Public meeting vs. Private club: I went to the public meeting of the Pike County Road Task Force on March 16 to seek redress before the county and PennDOT officials. I had some well researched questions for PennDOT. According to the Pa. Code 441.3a they are supposed to review the traffic study as part of Eagle Ridge’s Highway Occupancy Permit. I wanted to publicly ask if they were going to follow through on this. When the public comment period was announced, I was told by Commissioner Forbes to wait until the end of the meeting because my concerns were an off-agenda item. The end of the meeting came. I was recognized and got three sentences into my comment when Commissioner Forbes told me to stop. He was invoking a protocol by which I was to first address my Township Roadmaster or Supervisor before I could address them. “This way it limits unnecessary road problems from coming here,” Forbes explained. This policy was obscure, unpromulgated and rather contradictory - they allowed me several minutes of comment last meeting, why the sudden change? Fancy that... Forbes wants me to meet with the very people who walked away from our safety concerns. Freedom to speak under Robert’s Rules of Order: My uncle, whom I am named after, died in WWII so that I could have this very right. This is America, not some totalitarian regime. The image that Norman Rockwell immortalized in his painting “The Four Freedoms” - where the man is standing at a Town Hall meeting exercising his right to speak - is still valid and undeniable today. If I am not allowed to speak, then Commissioner Forbes diminishes every taxpayer’s right to stand up at any public meeting across this County and voice his concerns, and comments. The favor: Mr. Forbes actually did me a favor because his action allows me to frame more clearly the distinction and the injustice between the haves and the have nots of influence, and power that exists in Pike County. Dingman Supervisor Mincer was allowed to use this forum to express his outrage at PennDOT for not fixing the snow removal problem. Mincer said this puts his family, friends and neighbors at tremendous risk and he demands a solution. Everyone rallied behind Commissioner Caridi’s statement: “Isn’t it sad that someone has to die before they fix this problem! “Hello... People in the room... that is my argument! Only it is Mincer that is putting my family, friends and neighbors in harm’s way - and not just for a temporary snow event, but every day of the year. Mr. Forbes, I ask, is Mincer’s indignation any more valid than mine? Is his chance to confront PennDOT anymore important than mine? By allowing Mincer to speak and not me, you expose the disturbing fault line of hypocrisy in Pike County. The public comment: I am ashamed and disappointed that our safety concerns played out this way. Gentlemanly discourse on a level playing field is always preferable. I want remind all the engineers involved - the first canon of your code of ethics is: hold paramount the safety of the public. To all the governmental entities - your duty is to your constituents not the expediency of the developer. To all the parties involved in putting us in harms way we say this: You are put on notice of the unacceptable level of risk that will occur on Buist Road because of the Estates at Eagle Ridge. If a collision, injury or death occurs because of this circumstance, you will all be held accountable and liable for your part in creating this hazardous condition. The future: 1) If developers try to aggressively trample township ordinances or play footloose with the rules - the common taxpayer and litigation frightened townships can offer very little resistance. We need strong advocacy groups to keep a watchful eye and speak up when this happens. 2) There are many substandard roads in Pike County where the actions of developers will put taxpayers at ever-increasing risk. 3) Taxpayers have to foot the bill to repair these roads that the developers’ construction vehicles tear up. As it is now, the developers pay not one dime to a road fund. I think this needs to change, but I cannot do it alone. Just like with the drinking water concerns, I am asking taxpayers and bond referendum supporters for your help.