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Despite boom, Adams maintains small-town feel

| Saturday, May 3, 2014, 5:58 p.m.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Construction continues in the Fulton Crossing development in Adams on Monday, April 28, 2014.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Construction continues in the Chatham Court development site in Adams on Monday, April 28, 2014.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Construction continues in the Chatham Court development in Adams on Monday, April 28, 2014.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Carol and Bill Knox stand outside their home in the Adams Ridge plan with their children Brendan, 16, Brady, 14, and Lexie, 12, on Thursday, April 30, 2014. The Knoxes have lived in Adams Ridge for nearly 20 years, and said that despite the growth in Adams Township, it maintains its small-town feel.

When looking for a place to live, Justin and Rhoda Goehring settled on a new home in Taylor Ridge, one of Adams' newest housing plans under construction.

For Justin Goehring, it was a return to his roots, as he grew up in nearby Mars. For the couple, they wanted a home in the Mars Area School District for their young children.

“This is our forever home,” said Goehring, 35, as the couple's children, Ainsley, 15 months, and Camdyn, 2½, played underfoot.

Adams is undergoing substantial growth as the local economy rebounds from the downturn that hit the nation in 2008. The township said it has four residential plans under construction, and several other existing housing plans have new houses under way.

“We're benefitting where there's a lot of people who work in Cranberry but want to live in Adams,” Gary Peaco, the township's code enforcement officer said.

According to the most recent census figures, Adams' population rose 6 percent from 2010 to 2012, to 12,361 people.

Carol Knox and her family have lived in the Adams Ridge plan for nearly 20 years and said that despite the growth, the township maintains its small-town feel.

“I feel safe up here,” Knox, 49, said.

Adams' growth differs from nearby Cranberry's in several ways, Peaco said.

“We don't have the density that Cranberry has,” Peaco said. “We're able to offer a lot of upscale housing.”

Houses that were selling for $400,000 or $500,000 four or five years ago, Peaco said, are going for $550,000 or $600,000.

“The lot sizes are a little larger (than in Cranberry),” Peaco said. “We've tried to keep it rural. With larger lots comes a bigger house.”

Where parts of Myoma Road were nothing more than dirt paths in the 1970s, Peaco said portions are now known as “Millionaire Row.”

Several farmers have sold large parcels of land to developers in recent years, allowing for large housing plans, including South Village at the Pointe with 158 townhouses.

“Farmers are seeing the big dollar signs,” Peaco said, “They're seeing $2 million for 50 acres of land. Land values have become so great in this area. It's a prime location. Whatever can be developed, developers are trying to do it.”

Location is key, with easy access to Interstate 79, the Pennsylvania Turnpike and Route 8.

The road system remains a concern, however. Peaco said the township lacks a main road that compares to Cranberry's multi-lane Route 228 and Route 19. A bridge replacement project includes widening about a mile of Route 228, and township officials and residents hope that helps ease some of the steady congestion along the road. Long-term PennDOT plans call for widening Route 228 to at least four lanes from Franklin Road to Mars Valencia Road.

Several families said the size and reputation of the Mars Area School District drew them to the township. The school district is the third-largest in Butler County, with nearly 3,300 students.

Joe Schmitt, 31, an Adams Ridge resident, said that when a friend recently was looking at school districts in northern Allegheny County, he urged him to look at Mars because of the district's size and lower Butler County taxes. Schmitt and his wife, Christi, 33, moved to the township in 2008, and have two children, Layla, 1, and Reanna, 3.

With the retail development and other amenities in Adams and nearby Cranberry, Schmitt said, “It's like our own little city here.”

Still to be determined is what effect the Bishop Wuerl North Catholic High School, along Route 228 in Cranberry, just a few miles from Adams, will have on the population and the school district.

The Rev. Charles Bober, principal of North Catholic, said that he doesn't believe people will move from Pittsburgh to Adams and Cranberry because of the school, which is set to open in August.

“Remaining where they live and utilizing busing or driving would be much more likely. However, families that are moving into the region from other parts of the country may be making a choice for Adams/Cranberry because there is a choice for a quality, faith-based alternative in the area,” Bober said.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or

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