Buffalo Township makes zoning change to spur development

| Thursday, June 12, 2014, 12:46 a.m.

The Buffalo Township Supervisors anticipate a zoning district approved on Wednesday will spur development at the township's border near the Freeport Bridge.

The new Conservation and Traditional Neighborhood Business District (CB-1) is located near a trail head that eventually will connect the Butler-Freeport Community Trail with others like the Rachel Carson Trail.

The district was the result of months of planning commission work to update the township's zoning ordinance, which regulates development.

The CB-1 zone includes the former Dugout Bar site along Freeport Road, where developer Brian Clark wants to build a small plaza similar to the Dunkin' Donuts plaza in Tarentum, which he developed.

Development at the site, which has been vacant for years, was in question because it was zoned agricultural.

The district was established to provide some commercial opportunities in areas where steep slope and previous mining activity may need to be mitigated, according to the ordinance.

Permitted in the zone are office space, neighborhood business, day cares, single-family homes, agriculture, retail shops smaller than 20,000 square feet, bed-and-breakfasts and bars and restaurants.

The supervisors decided to include the last three as permitted uses rather than conditional uses, which require additional time and approvals from the planning commission and supervisors. The planning commission has the option of denying a development if it's a conditional use.

“I think it allows the developer to consider more options for the property,” said Supervisor Ron Zampogna. “But the township is still protected because he still has to come to us, he has to go to the planning commission, he has to get approval from the engineer and come to us for final approval.”

Planning commission chairwoman Regan Cordier said their board and the consultant with whom they worked felt that making retail, b-and-b's and restaurants a conditional use would protect from over-development near the residential community of Buffalo Junction.

“It helps the township make sure that the development being done is being done the right way,” she said.

Development such as apartments, public and community buildings and convenience stores remain conditional uses.

Larger billboards OK'd

The ordinance updates the township's billboard restrictions so they meet industry size standards.

The township's zoning code previously restricted billboards to manufacturing districts or in areas that were “grandfathered in” when the zoning ordinance was put into place.

The planning commission revised the code to permit billboards in the new CB-1 zone, a change that Clark pushed for in the highly visible area.

One billboard is permitted per parcel or lot and may not exceed 288 square feet in the CB-1 zone. Larger billboards are permitted in the M-2 manufacturing district.

Previously, billboards in all areas were limited to 100 square feet.

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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