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North Huntingdon officials meet to encourage commercial development

| Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Courtesy of the Rivers of the Steel National Heritage Area
This is a view of the remaining Carrie blast furnaces from the ore yard. The blast-furnace complex is located in both Rankin and Swissvale and was part of the U.S. Steel Homestead Works. It is managed by Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area.

North Huntingdon officials hope to take a proactive approach to encouraging commercial development throughout the township.

The township commissioners and planning commission met for a third time last week to discuss their priorities for development throughout the township. The two boards hope to attract more restaurants, technology companies and research-based businesses, light manufacturing, office parks and corporate offices.

“Those types of businesses would be best in our township,” Commissioner Zachary Haigis said. “But it's hard to reach out to people to invest money, and find locations.”

Planning commission President William Chapman said officials should develop an inventory of the township's available properties, which should include photos and information on tax rates, lot sizes and sale prices.

The inventory would help township officials present information to developers so they could quickly find a parcel to meet their needs, Chapman said.

“We have a lot of residential properties, but now, we need the businesses to go along with it,” Chapman said. “Business adds no more kids to the school district but still brings in a lot of tax money.”

Along with more business, planning commission member Bernard Solomon suggested the township put recreation development on the forefront.

“We have limited recreational facilities in this township,” Solomon said. “We need to get involved and get somebody who can go out and look for grants for recreational facilities.

“There's no reason we couldn't put in a par-three golf course, dek hockey, batting cages or things of that nature.”

Blenko said he and the planning commission often hear complaints about the township's lack of recreation. While the township's residential development grew, officials did not add many recreational options, he added.

He described recreation as an amenity for township residents.

“There's a lot of things to be proud about with all the township has to offer. Maybe we just need to market it all a little bit,” Blenko said.

Township manager John Shepherd said officials plan to continue brainstorming ways to attract business opportunities and market the township over the next two months.

The commissioners and planning commission plan to meet again at 6 p.m. June 13 at the North Huntingdon Town House.

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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