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Proposed plaza in Buffalo Township would include up to 4 businesses

| Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, 12:16 a.m.

A new commercial development has been proposed in Buffalo Township outside the large plazas near the Route 28 interchange.

“We have very little (other) commercial property in Buffalo Township,” said Roger Kelly, the township's zoning officer.

Kelly Mason of Buffalo Township said he wants to build a small shopping plaza, with three or four businesses, on his mother's property on North Pike Road (Route 356) near its intersection with Coal Hollow Road.

“I've been in business for 18 years, but this is the first time I'm venturing into commercial development,” Mason said.

He is developing the plaza with the help of two cousins. They plan to begin the project in about 1½ to 2 years, Mason said.

Mason cleared the first step toward making the development a reality when township supervisors last week voted to rezone the approximately 7-acre parcel as a “central business district.”

The rear portion was already zoned for commercial development, and the front was a combination of general residential and conservation district.

Mason owns Vocelli Pizza at 246 North Pike Road in front of the trailer court, not far from his proposed development. He said he plans to move the shop to the new plaza.

Sandra Rudert, who lives next door to the property, told supervisors she was concerned about what types of businesses would be located there. She said she doesn't object to the development.

“I don't have any concerns at this point, just general questions,” she said.

Supervisor Ron Zampogna said the rezoning is a preliminary step in getting the development off the ground.

“He has to go through the planning commission, meet with the engineer and come back to us,” he said. “We'll take a close look at what is going on there.”

Rezoning is being considered for another property to allow commercial development near the township's borders with Freeport and Harrison.

Supervisors have formally asked the planning commission to review the creation of a zoning overlay district specific to the former Dugout Bar property on Freeport Road up the hill from the Freeport Bridge.

“It will start the process to move us ahead a little bit,” said Supervisor John Haven.

Real estate developer Brian Clark of Harrison said he plans to buy the 2-acre parcel but hasn't determined what to put there.

An overlay district imposes additional regulations beyond the existing zoning. In this case, the overlay would allow for commercial development while regulating the use of billboards.

The billboards currently on the hillside are grandfathered in. A township ordinance allows billboards only in a manufacturing district.

Buffalo Township and Freeport's planning commissions are working together to come up with a plan on how to deal with billboard requests in that area.

“They're the ones that have to look at them,” Haven said of Freeport residents. “We want to let them know what we're doing.”

The township has one zoning overlay district in the South Pike Road commercial corridor.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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