Several neighbors of the Timber Villa retirement community complained to West Donegal Township supervisors about the cul-de-sac they live on becoming a through street now that the retirement community has opened a gate on what had been an emergency access road.
Poplar Lane resident Tom Lupold told township supervisors at their meeting on Monday, Sept. 11, that most Timber Villa residents drive at a responsible speed, but some do not, including one car that went through his block at about 50 mph. He said most residents of his block have lived there 25 years or more and are likely to sell their homes soon and he is concerned that through traffic on the block will lower property values. Lupold also said through traffic does little to speed up access to homes at Timber Villa.
“The house nearest to the road saves about 20 seconds by coming down our road,” Lupold said, adding that the other homes save even less time.
The portion of Poplar Lane north of Dogwood Drive is connected to Timber Villa with what was described as an emergency road when it was built in the 1990s. Timber Villa developer David Heisey told township supervisors that the road was unpaved when he was running Timber Villa, but a new board took over the condo association in 1996. The condo association paved the road, but until recently it was blocked by a gate.
“A new board and a few people up there decided they needed a shortcut,” Heisey said, so the gate was opened, bringing through traffic to the portion of Poplar Lane north of Dogwood Drive. A stop sign is there, but Heisey said he has seen a few drivers blow through it at what he estimated to be a speed of 50 mph.
Northwest Lancaster County Regional Police Chief Mark Mayberry said his officers cannot cite drivers who ignore the stop sign because it is on a private road.
Township Manager Gene Oldham said Solicitor Josele Cleary had advised the township that because the road recently opened to traffic is a private road not dedicated to the township, there is nothing the township can do. He declined to provide a copy of Cleary’s letter saying that, saying he was not sure if the attorney-client communication was a public record as defined by Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law, but he said he would check on that. Cleary was not present at the meeting.
In other business, supervisors approved spending $12,000 for a plow for a township loader after Roadmaster Todd Garber said it made more sense to hire employees to plow snow at $30 an hour using township equipment than to pay contractors to do the work for $195 and hour using their own equipment. Garber said contractors might still be used in extreme conditions if employees are working more than 12 hours, but a normal snow event takes eight to 10 hours to clear.