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Ross officials tab Rickert as planning, zoning head

| Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

An Allegheny County planning official will guide development in Ross Township's commercial and residential areas.

Ross commissioners unanimously approved hiring Dominic “Nick” Rickert, a planning project manager for the Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, on July 21 as the township's first planning and zoning administrator. He will begin work on Aug. 6.

“I'm looking forward to the new position and doing the best I can for the residents of Ross and the board of commissioners,” Rickert said.

According to township manager Doug Sample, the planning and zoning administrator will oversee and provide direction for short- and long-term community-development programs, regulations and plans. Ross officials' decision to develop a comprehensive plan for the township prompted them to create the position, he said.

The full-time position pays $52,500, and comes with health insurance.

Rickert, who has more than 20 years of planning experience, said he's excited to work in Ross because it's a heavily populated area with busy business districts and development potential.

Upcoming projects include a housing plan on the site of the former Highland Country Club and a 149-unit apartment building near the Ross Park Mall.

“Given the uptick of development and the anticipated continuance of that, the commissioners believed it was appropriate to hire a designated planner,” Commissioner Steve Korbel said. “It's really a good thing.”

Several commissioners have expressed a need for carefully organized development in the township, and Commissioner Jeremy Shaffer has said Ross needs to be more pedestrian- and bike-friendly.

Rickert, 47, of South Park, has helped Allegheny County acquire development rights for farmland. Rickert began working for the county in 2008.

While working for the county, Rickert said, he has done some work in McCandless and is familiar with the McKnight Road area.

“Ross seems to have a lot going on and a lot coming up, which is exciting,” Rickert said. “I hope to build on the good work they've already done there.”

Before his work with Allegheny County, Rickert was a transportation planning and project coordinator in Clinton County, New York, for 15 years. He has a bachelor's degree in environmental science from the State University of New York Plattsburgh.

Rickert also has been in the Army Reserve for 26 years.

Kelsey Shea is a staff writer at Trib Total Media. Reach her at kshea@tribweb.com or at 724-772-6353.

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