Will Dingman Township listen to residents?

| 29 Sep 2011 | 07:57

    To the editor: The citizens of Pike County and Dingman Township, in particular, sent a message loud and clear with the Nov. 8 bond referendum vote (75% YES in Dingman) and last year’s county comprehensive plan survey. To government officials the message is this: we want subdivisions and land uses planned and sited correctly. Our health, safety and rural quality of life are at stake! As the county and. townships continue to subdivide, the need for strong ordinances, stringent environmental impact criteria, thorough traffic studies, along with relevant public hearings will become crucial. These will be the tools by which proper growth is advanced and ill-conceived growth is rejected. But even with these in place, the public is going to have to be vigilant. Since they are footing the bill, environmental impact statements and traffic studies commissioned by the developer can be pretty much say what the developer wants. Case in point, the subdivision called “The Estates at Eagle Ridge” is proposed by the out-of-town developer. He hired a traffic expert to do a traffic study of Buist Road, their main access road. He concluded that Buist Road is fine as is and does not need an upgrade to handle the traffic of 39 new families. The traffic study had many flaws. The expert admitted that he did not take into account two emergency vehicles passing side by side. Shouldn’t that have been the first consideration? He stated that for two large vehicles to safely pass, one would have to pull over when it sees the other. But the expert missed the most glaring geometry of the road; 1) the narrow section that is incorporated into a blind curve, therefore you cannot “see” the oncoming large vehicle, and 2) with no shoulders on a 16-ft wide, 1/8 mile section sandwiched between a huge rock outcropping and an important “Milford Springs” wetland, where does one “pull over?” Remember, we are not even talking winter conditions here, which makes this situation even more hazardous. After rebutting the traffic expert, Dingman Township Planning Commissioners passed a resolution that Buist Road could not safely sustain the new subdivision traffic. When the same argument went before the Dingman Township Supervisors, the township solicitor suggested the possibility that signage should be looked at to solve the road problem. What is the sign going to say? “Travel at Own Risk.” Obviously, my neighbors and I hope the supervisors reject the signage idea and the traffic study outright. We hope they listen to the reports and recommendations of their own township engineer, roadmaster and planning commissioners as to the substandard geometry of Buist Road with regard to increased traffic. Finally, we hope that the Township Supervisors will observe their own ordinances that are pertinent to this case. If a private development is going to exceed the safety capacity of an existing access road, shouldn’t it be the developer’s responsibility to pay for the necessary improvements, not the overburdened taxpayer. The Township’s role should be to ensure that the health, safety and quality of life of its citizens are not impacted by a subdivision design flaw. Stay tuned to January 10 to see if the Dingman Township Supervisors heed the strong message of its constituents and deny “The Estates at Eagle Ridge” conditional use approval until all relevant road, safety and environmental issues are resolved. Vito DiBiasi Dingman Township