A moratorium on sanitary sewer tap-in allocations in the Peters Creek Sanitary Authority service area has caused new construction in four communities to come to a halt.
According to a recent story in the Observer-Reporter, builders and developers of Finleyville, Nottingham and Union townships, and the eastern part of Peters Township, filled Monday’s meeting armed with questions and complaints.
The remaining portion of Peters Township is served by the Peters Township Sanitary Authority.
PCSA members heard one centralized complaint—the lack of new tap-ins being permitted by the state Department of Environmental Protection, the newspaper reported.
Reached for an interview Wednesday, Peters resident and builder Joe McLaughlin—of McLaughlin Builders—expressed his frustration.
“The main complaint is that the PCSA board has failed in its task,” he said. “It seems to think it needs a sewage plant of its own, while the present system works.”
McLaughlin said this has been a problem for eight years, and he personally expects the DEP to step in and rule that they must sign the new agreement with Clairton Municipal Authority.
“Why they would want to build and maintain a plant of their own is crazy from a cost standpoint,” he said.
At Monday’s meeting, Peters Township builder Ted Taylor said he has 18 empty lots in the PCSA watershed that he cannot build on because sewer taps are not available. Yet, Taylor said, he continues to pay $1,900 in taxes on those lots—the O-R reports.
“Without these taps anyone who is planning to build a home or building can’t purchase one, which is what gives them the ability to tie into the PCSA lines,” McLaughlin said.
While the board expressed concerns and empathy for the builders, audience members implied it was not doing enough to battle the DEP.
“There are many (construction plans) ready to start that will create hundreds of jobs in the area,” he said.
Builders told the PCSA that 203 people are directly employed for each new housing start, not including an undetermined number of indirect jobs.
However, the issue of obtaining new allocations isn’t solely decided by the PCSA.
On Feb. 21, the board appealed a Jan. 20 denial by DEP to an Act 537 plan that proposed construction of a new sewage treatment plant solely for PCSA that would discharge treated water directly into Peters Creek in Union Township, according to the newspaper.
“This not only stops us (builders), but it stops landowners that want to sell vacant land,” McLaughlin said. “If taps are not available, the value of the land is greatly reduced.
“PCSA said it could be two years to resolve this.
“I want to see Peters residents show up, or email our political representatives, and encourage them to get involved. Taxes may have to be raised if this situation isn’t corrected. Vacant owned land now needs to be reassessed because public sewage isn’t available.”
At Monday’s meeting, PCSA chairman Otto Szabo said the board isn’t trying to stop growth, and “we’re on your side” was a common theme expressed, according to the O-R.
McLaughlin said the next step is to “rally the troops” and attend a joint meeting next Wednesday evening in the Union Township Municipal Building.
“The municipalities have scheduled workshops of all sorts with area council members to come up with a plan,” he said. “This step by local government is a great step in the right direction and much appreciated by the landowners.”
The Union Township Municipal Building is located at 3904 Finleyville-Elrama Road in Finleyville.