Residents call on Sewickley council to address concerns about steep driveway

Monday, December 17, 2018 | 6:03 AM

To a passerby, it looks like a steep driveway.

But to residents who live on Hopkins and Hill streets in Sewickley, the driveway raises safety concerns and other issues. These residents came to Sewickley council Dec. 11 to again speak out about the driveway at 550 Hopkins St. that leads to a house at 601 Hill St.

Hill Street resident Barbara Cox told council members that previous council meeting minutes did not adequately document the dangerous situation the developments present, and council members assured Cox and other residents who came to the meeting that they are working with the borough engineer, code enforcement officer and planning commission to address the matter.

According to Cox, the development work includes a driveway which stretches from Hopkins Street to 601 Hill St.

“There’s no transition from the public sidewalk to the driveway. We go directly from the curb cut to the driveway. The driveway has a steep slope of 25 percent, which by any engineering standard is considered very steep. At the bottom of this 25 percent slope, there is a very sharp, severe curve,” Cox said.

These characteristics could endanger drivers, passengers and pedestrians, she said.

Cox also voiced concerns about water runoff from the excavation work and the threat of landslides.

The company responsible for the development, Minas LLC, performed work on the curb cut and driveway without the proper permits or variances, she said.

Multiple steps, including a public hearing recommended by the planning commission, have to take place before council can determine if Minas must return the property to its original state.

“The protocol for us is for our code enforcement officer to work with the engineer and then come back with a recommendation to council. Council cannot make a decision without a recommendation from either the code enforcement officer, from zoning or from the planning commission,” council President Jeff Neff said.

Contact information for Minas LLC could not be found, however Stan Southern, a representative of Minas, told council in November that his company has a plan in place to address the concerns voiced by Cox and comply with borough regulations, including a stop-use order for the driveway.

Councilman John Dunn, who serves on the planning commission, confirmed the next step is a Jan. 9 public hearing at the municipal building, on the merger of the Hopkins and Hill Street lots.

“(The planning commission) can’t look past what is in front of us, so what we did was we voted on the fact that if they want to merge those properties, we have given the recommendation to have a public hearing to hear about it. After that, it will be voted on by zoning,” Dunn said at the council meeting.

Sam Bojarski is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.