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North Huntingdon officials turn focus to western Route 30

| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The North Huntingdon commissioners and planning commission hope to encourage development in the western portion of Route 30, but don't want to cause problems for adjacent residential areas.

According to Andrew Blenko, township planner and engineer, properties along western Route 30 feature up to 300 feet of commercial land along the highway, while the remainder is zoned residential.

The average commercial zoning depth is 300 feet, but the parcels all vary in size, with some reaching up to 50 acres, Blenko said. Anything outside of the 300 feet of commercial zoning is zoned residential, he said.

“These parcels will accommodate a convenience store, but not a Best Buy, shopping center or grocery store,” Blenko said. “We've debated changing it to one parcel, one zone, where if a portion is zoned commercial, the whole thing is zoned commercial.”

Manager John Shepherd said officials would have to make sure commercial developments would not disrupt the residential districts, which sit behind the commercial zones along Route 30, by installing proper buffers and screening between the two parcels, he said.

President Lee Moffatt said officials could consider adjusting the commercial zoning on a parcel-by-parcel basis, with the depth depending on its proximity to residential developments.

He suggested using existing parcels, such as Target and Giant Eagle, as an example of how deep a commercial lot should be to house larger developments.

Commissioner Rich Gray said developing western Route 30 should be one of the township's priorities. Residents have been looking for development on that portion of Route 30 for several years, he added.

“I'd like to see more (commercial development) activity down that way,” Gray said. “If the zoning is appropriate, we need to find some way to encourage it.”

Planning commission member Tom Kerber said the township could inadvertently be prohibiting development along western Route 30, due to the depth of the commercially zoned parcels along the highway.

“Right now, we're stopping development instead of encouraging it, which is why the western end gets nothing done,” Kerber said. “I don't know if there is anything that would like to be pushed out there.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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