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Developer pitches subdivision at Murrysville Golf Course

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By Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A developer and an architect presented to Murrysville planning commission on Tuesday an idea for how Murrysville Golf Course's land could be developed into a housing development.

At this point, the concept is exploratory. There's been no deal for the 137-acre plot, the course will open for golf in 2014 and owners are not in a hurry, said Jim Geiger, president of Recreation Inc. and general manager of the golf course.

He said leadership at the golf club is talking about the future of the public course along Sardis Road, which offers tee times seven days a week, a restaurant and a pro shop.

They'll apply for a zoning change, aiming to switch from the “rural residential” designation to the “R-1 low density residential” designation, which would allow for more homes.

Golf course leadership tried unsuccessfully in 2005 to get R-1 zoning. Geiger told the planning commission that the rural residential designation diminishes the value of the land, and surrounding properties already have the R-1 classification.

“We'd like to recognize the highest and best use of the land,” Geiger said. “Appraisers say the best use of the land is residential development. That's certainly a possibility for the future.”

Now's the right time for discussion, Geiger said, as Murrysville officials work on their comprehensive plan.

The golf industry nationally has been in a slow decline, and the course's ownership is aging, he said.

“We just continually ask ourselves, ‘What are we going to do in the future?' ” he said. “We're thinking about things seriously.”

Richard Kacin of Kacin General Contractors presented to planners ideas for “how we might develop the Murrysville Golf Course.”

“We're here to show what we would do with it if the property were rezoned,” Kacin said.

The 84 single-family homes would feature attached garages, master bedrooms and front porches.

“We're talking about a lifestyle project,” Kacin said. “What we would build would be driven by architecture and lifestyle. We would have sidewalks and tree-lined streets.”

The concept is “a little bit of a departure” from a typical subdivision, Kacin said, adding that officials working to update the comprehensive plan have said there's a need for homes like these.

“We're finding a lot of people don't want that big, big lot,” he said. “A lot of people don't want two stories anymore.”

The development would use about 100 acres, excluding acreage with steep slopes or within a flood plain.

The property has no main water line, and homes would need an extension of the gravity-based sewer system.

Because the property would have a “relatively low density,” architect Brian Almeter said he doesn't expect that emergency services would need to expand.

Design plans would be based on site constraints and market conditions, he said.

“There's empty-nesters, fewer children,” Almeter said. “(It) seems like the market is going to one-level living.”

Almeter envisions homes situated relatively close to Sardis Road, helping residents to feel like they're a part of Murrysville and not in a stand-alone, gated community. He wants sidewalks so residents can walk around and socialize with neighbors.

“Although we're not specifically marketing this to older adults, we feel that older adults will come and buy homes here,” Almeter said.

Feedback from planning commissioners focused on Sardis Road traffic and adding costs to police and fire crews to serve more people.

“I don't see the benefit to Murrysville to change the zoning,” said Ron O'Toole, a planning commission member. “They can develop it the way it is.”

But Almeter said the property is not marketable to develop under the “rural residential” identification because the lots would be too big.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or

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