With very little fanfare and no discussion, the Grant Professional Plaza constructed along Route 443 finally received approval for the as-built plans submitted over a year and a half ago by developer Bill Grant on a 4-1 vote by the Mahoning Township supervisors during Monday night's meeting.
Only Chairperson John Wieczorek, who has expressed criticism for the process since it started over a year ago, was the only dissenting vote on this final action that will allow the state to inspect the building and issue an occupancy permit for the building itself.
"We have a full building and over 40 jobs in the building and if we cannot get a permit for the building itself from L&I, we will have to close the building causing the loss of those jobs," Grant said at the meeting earlier this month. Grant told supervisors at that time the building generates property taxes as well and he didn't want to see the building closed over what he considered a minor matter.
Supervisors and Grant settled on most of the half dozen differences between the original approved plans and the final construction as shown on the as-built plan, but the one area in which supervisors held fast for the last eighteen months was on the issue of lighting on the property.
The original plan showed three light standards on the property but when the project was completed, there ended up being five lights instead. Grant cited the reason for the additional lights was with regard to safety and the relocation of the handicapped parking space from one end of the property to the other.
Although the issue was discussed on the previous board over several meetings, there was never a compromise on the lighting issue. Supervisors George Stawnyczyj, Travis Steigerwalt and Wieczorek were on that board and while Stawnyczyj supported the plan throughout the process, Steigerwalt and Wieczorek had reasons for holding out on the plan.
Wieczorek was critical of the process that allowed developers to have plans approved and then be able to change them once actual construction was underway and he believed that this occurred in more than one instance on the plan. He felt of all the changes made without board authorization, the lighting standard was the easiest one to reverse and he felt the developer should compromise that issue and return it to the way the approved plan depicted the lighting.
Steigerwalt's opposition was to the lighting standards being added without approval under the concern of excessive lighting on the property. Grant pointed out there was no lighting ordinance on the books to govern this and while Steigerwalt discussed some professional standards, Grant reminded the board there was no ordinance in the township that covered it.
When it was clear there was no budging from either side, the issue rested but last month township building inspector Carl Faust brought the issue back to the forefront when he informed Grant and the supervisors the building needed to be inspected by the Bureau of Labor and Industry or else it would not receive a state occupancy permit and the tenants would be forced to leave. Individual tenants were able to receive occupancy permits once the engineer inspected the property but the state also had to grant a permit based on the as-built plans being approved and inspected.
While it seemed like Wieczorek and Steigerwalt were still firm in their decision to not approve the as-built plans, last evening's decision made Wieczorek the lone dissenter as Steigerwalt and Stawnyczyj were joined by Supervisors Frank Ruch and Linda Benner to approve the plan. No comment or discussion took place before the 4-1 vote and afterward Grant offered no comment but supplied the township with its copy of the plan bringing to a conclusion this year and a half issue.