RedZone helps community save $300K a year

Robots will be invading Shaler in May.

“If any residents see red lights in their toilets, let us know,” quipped Manager Timothy Rogers quipped at Tuesday evening’s commissioners meeting.

Kevin Creagh, township engineer, explained that RedZone Robotics Inc., of Carnegie Mellon University, has divided the township into eight areas and each year sends robotic cameras into a section of the sanitary sewer system looking for breaks, leaks, roots and other invaders that need to be terminated before they cause expensive damage.

The automated technology has saved Shaler some serious money — at least $300,000 a year.

“We have reduced dramatically sanitary sewer backups,” Mr. Rogers noted.

Next month, zone two will become the focus of the RedZone minions, sending televised images of the sewer lines in the northwest corner of the township from the border with Hampton and Ross to Scott Avenue and Mount Royal Boulevard.

Township roads will be subject to more conventional technology. The commissioners awarded A. Folino Construction Inc. of Pittsburgh this year’s $1,057,555.54 paving project. The company was the lowest responsible bidder and did Shaler’s 2006 paving program.

Roads scheduled for paving this year include Autumnwood Drive, Fernledge Drive from Dressel to Sapling, Governor Drive, Greenhilll Road from Venango to Hahn, Hahn Road, Hawthorne Road, Lammert Drive, Maryland Drive, Scobbo Drive, Spencer Lane Extension, Victory Road, Wallace Road, Woodland Road after Elfinwild Lane and Zueger Road.

Wetzel Road, at the bend where Jeffrey Primary School sits across from the township building, is set for work of another kind. Shaler work crews will begin creating a school safety zone that will include signage and blinking yellow lights.

In other business, commissioners approved the site plan of James Courtney for improvements to Courtney’s Service Station on Mount Royal Boulevard.

Township solicitor Joe Vogrin’s cellular ordinance was approved unanimously. The directive mandates where cell phone towers can be built, sets standards for their erection and removal and dictates that companies share towers whenever possible.

Cell phone companies must appeal to Shaler’s zoning hearing board before getting a conditional use permit before construction of a new tower or sharing of an existing one is allowed. Shaler also will require that bonds be paid and held by the township to ensure annual inspections and proper removal of the towers.

The law was constructed to protect the health and safety of the community, Mr. Vogrin said. He expects that new technology will eliminate the need for the large towers.

Finally, Commissioner Thomas McElhone reported that the North Hills Council of Governments is looking for a law firm specializing in Marcellus shale ordinances. The council is considering development of a regional ordinance regulating drilling in the North Hills region rather than having each municipality create its own regulations.

Mr. Rogers said he knows of no specific law firm that specializes in regulating the natural gas industry but noted that McCandless has its own ordinance, which could be used as a model for any regional regulation.

“They’re not really in Shaler,” he pointed out. “We have very few potential sites here.” Only industrial sites located in the township would qualify anyway, he said, but added that Shaler does have to protect its aquifer.

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