Ligonier Township officials have given the green light to a new Dollar General along Route 271 in Waterford.

The board of supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve the land development plan for the chain retail store.

The board’s approval is subject to three conditions: a finalized developer’s agreement between Ligonier Township and GBT Realty, Dollar General’s real estate division; a highway occupancy permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from the Westmoreland Conservation District for stormwater discharge and erosion and sedimentation controls.

Solicitor Dan Hudock has engaged in discussions with Dollar General and Ligonier Township’s engineer and zoning and community development officer regarding a draft of the developers’ agreement, he said.

Bob Gage, GBT Realty senior vice president of net lease development, said the company was prepared to sign the agreement.

The plan also includes two granted waivers from the township’s subdivision and land development ordinance (SALDO) that GBT Realty needs to build the store on two adjoining tracts encompassing 2.7 acres just east of the intersection of state routes 271 and 711.

The modifications include placing the loading area at the front of the store rather than at the side or rear, due to the Mill Creek floodplain restricting delivery trucks, and eliminating a required interior landscape island from the parking lot.

GBT Realty has agreed to plant trees and shrubbery along the parking lot perimeter and is amenable to making additional aesthetic changes. The supervisors saw a set of drawings showing a predominantly red brick building.

There have been concerns about the potential environmental impact the Dollar General store could have on nearby Mill Creek.

Resident and zoning hearing board alternate member Jim Stewart, who has spoken against the Dollar General store at previous planning commission meetings, cited traffic on Route 271 as another worry.

“And the one thing of the myriad things that I am really concerned about is the traffic. And I understand that 271 is a state road. I understand it’s enforced by the Pennsylvania State Police, but you all are going to permit what is really an attractive nuisance on that road,” Stewart said.

Chairman Dan Resenic read a letter from the Loyalhanna Watershed Association (LWA) that encouraged township officials to review the Dollar General development for consistency with goals and objectives in the Ligonier Valley Joint Comprehensive Plan and Ligonier Township’s zoning and stormwater management ordinances regarding watershed restoration and natural resource protection.

While the parcels slated for development along Route 271 are located in an economic opportunity area identified in the comprehensive plan, the southern portions lie within the 100-year floodplain, the letter pointed out.

The LWA recommended a minimum 100-foot-wide riparian buffer between a development and any waterway for stream stabilization.

Supervisor John Beaufort asked if the development would touch any wetlands and what type of stormwater drainage system is planned for the parking lot.

Gage answered no regarding any wetlands encroachment and explained that surface stormwater from a majority of the parking lot would be drained into a detention facility on the western side of the property. Roof runoff would also be piped into the pond before the water is scrubbed and released.

The pipe would run beneath the PennDOT right-of-way and a neighbor’s frontage to the west and likely improve that landowner’s flooding situation as well, according to Gage.

Hudock confirmed that the Dollar General development is legally in compliance subject to the three pending conditions and reiterated that the planning commission has recommended approval of the plan.

In other business, the first phase of planned improvements to the Ligonier Township Municipal Complex along Route 711 North will include an addition to the building for the Ligonier Valley Police Department.

The police commission has explored building a new headquarters for the regional police force and spent two years looking for a suitable site or considering adding to the existing township building, according to Beaufort.

He said a preliminary sketch plan from The EADS Group’s architectural department is available for the board to review but not ready for any decision at this time.

The department needs a facility with more room, better ventilation and improved security, according to Ligonier Valley Police Chief John Berger.

Projects that finance officer Bethany Caldwell and the supervisors will tackle with new Ligonier Township manager Michael Strelic include capital planning for municipal building improvements plus an allocation strategy for maturing investments.

Caldwell also alerted the board that she is monitoring rising fuel costs and their impact on the township’s budget. Only four months into the year, inflation has forced the township to already spend significant percentages of their fuel budgets for 2022 – 54% alone for the fire departments, for example.

The board voted 4-1 to accept the 2022-2023 winter snow removal agreement with PennDOT that will reimburse Ligonier Township $17,666.58 for its maintenance of three state roads spanning 11.68 miles total: Springer, Owl Hollow and Marietta. Supervisor Scott Matson was opposed.

Four property subdivisions that the planning commission recommended approval of in April were not listed on the supervisors’ agenda. Per the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act, the board voted to amend the agenda to add only one of the plans as it was the only one for which a representative was present at the meeting and drawings were available for review.

The subdivision shifts the boundary between two adjoining lots Lynn Watkins owns along Route 271 in Waterford, after it was discovered that the existing division runs through a commercial building.

The new property line separates a home from the former Watkins Market, which has sat vacant for several years but now has an interested buyer.

The properties share an on-lot septic system and will continue to do so, an arrangement that’s permitted by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection as long as a joint maintenance agreement is in place.

The township received inspection reports from Tri-State Design and Development Inc. for three bridges on McKelvey Road, Mill Road and Clifford Woods Road.

With zero indicating critical work needed and five calling for routine maintenance, McKelvey scored the lowest overall rating of four. Engineer Ben Faas of The EADS Group said that while there’s nothing structurally wrong with the bridges, McKelvey needs the highest priority work – abutment cleaning – while the other two need updated guiderails.

Public works director Russ Morgan reported that the township’s newest public works employee, Tom Bernosky, has resigned. The board asked for Bernosky to provide an official resignation letter by its next meeting.

A trio of supervisors met last week with representatives from Ligonier Township’s three volunteer fire departments to discuss ways the municipality can support the companies’ membership and financial needs.

One idea was establishing a junior firefighter organization at the Ligonier Valley High School to attract younger members.

“Membership levels are getting to be at a critical stage and we need to get the word out to the young people that there are significant educational benefits for firefighters,” Resenic said.

While Ligonier Township currently allocates $10,000 to each of the fire departments in its annual budget and pays for their vehicle fuel, the supervisors are also discussing future long-term financial security options for them, according to Beaufort.

Beaufort and supervisor Stephanie Verna also mentioned adding contact information for Darlington Station 42, Waterford Station 44 and Wilpen Station 45 and listing their fundraising and community events in Ligonier Township’s newsletter and on its website and Facebook page.

The supervisors will meet again this month at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 24, at the Ligonier Township Municipal Complex.

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