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Buffalo Township, Audubon Society team up on former Oregon Camp

| Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013, 1:36 a.m.

Buffalo Township officials and the Audubon Society plan to work together to determine the best option for their joint occupancy of the former Oregon Camp property.

The township must finalize its purchase of the 5-acre parcel by Nov. 1. After that, supervisors plan to meet with Jim Bonner, Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania's executive director, to discuss five options the Audubon has presented.

They range from the Audubon Society buying just the land it needs to build the nature center, to the environmental group signing a maintenance agreement with the township to develop and maintain the entire park area.

“Many of the options will probably incur more cost for us, but we're moving ahead and we're committed to the project,” Bonner told township supervisors Wednesday. “It's a matter of finding what is the best ‘win-win' for the township and the residents.”

The Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania plans to build a nature center there, and the township wants to renovate an existing building and create park facilities.

The property is near Monroe Road and Norris Lane.

The Audubon Society originally intended to buy about half of the property, but that plan hit a snag when the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said it would deduct from the township's $90,000 grant to purchase the property whatever the Audubon Society pays for its portion of the land.

Township supervisors said they also are committed to seeing the partnership come to fruition.

In a discussion last month, the supervisors appeared to favor a proposal to sell the environmental group part of the land as previously agreed. The Audubon would make up the difference for what is subtracted from the state grant.

“I don't want to renege on what we agreed to with the Audubon Society,” Supervisor Matt Sweeny said then. “Where they want to put the center is kind of in a dead zone, anyway. I think it would enhance the property.”

In other business

The supervisors will hold a public hearing on Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. on a request from Freeport Transport Inc. to rezone property it owns along Butler Road near the Route 28 interchange.

The company wants the township to rezone about 1.6 acres from M-2 Manufacturing to B-1 Business District so that a restaurant can open there.

Company operations manager Jonathan Smetanick said a building located there formerly housed a deli and bakery.

The company would renovate the building and then lease it to a restaurant operator, he said.

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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