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New Stanton officials told to update development plans

| Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

New Stanton officials need to plan for new business and residential development after the Interstate 70 interchange construction project is completed in 2018, according to the Westmoreland County Department of Planning and Development.

The $50 million PennDOT project, which aims to ease the borough's traffic gridlock, will remove the ramps to I-70 and relocate them near the UPS facility.

County planners predict that the project will bring more business and residential development to the borough, which has an outdated comprehensive plan. The plan, which was drafted more than 10 years ago, lays out community goals for land use and policy.

At a recent council meeting, county planners presented options for revamping the borough's planning and zoning to help control and manage anticipated development.

Christopher Bova, deputy planning director, and Brian Lawrence, assistant deputy director, gave council a sample of a comprehensive plan and a master plan, costing $75,000 and $50,000 respectively. If council decides to draft a new comprehensive plan, they would draw up a request for proposals based on one of those examples.

The county started working with the borough several months ago, soliciting ideas from residents about what the new face of New Stanton could look like during a public meeting with Smart Growth Partnership, a nonprofit that partners with local colleges. The results of that meeting were analyzed and a report was presented to council.

“There seemed to be a lot of heartfelt passion among the residents that were there,” said Dean Nelson, associate professor of statistics at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. “They had a real concern for the future of the borough and how the new change would impact them, and they would like to be a part of the solution.”

Many residents said they want better traffic control, a grocery store and more walkable areas.

Bova told council members they have three choices; do nothing, adopt the comprehensive plan or adopt the master plan. The comprehensive plan would cover all borough infrastructure; transportation; open space; parks and recreation; utilities; sewage; business and residential plans. The master plan would focus on the area most affected by the interchange relocation, mainly traffic congestion.

County planners will help the borough secure funding and offer in-kind services for matching grants with the hope that new plan will not cost taxpayers anything.

Bova told council the planning office would like them to make a decision in the next month or two about which direction they will take.

“Timing is important,” he said. “If you chose to take a couple years to make a decision, that might be a problem.”

The planning process would involve getting input from residents, businesses and council members, Bova said.

Construction on the interchange is to start in 2015.

Kate Wilcox is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or kwilcox@tribweb.com.

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