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New Stanton to craft comprehensive plan to prove borough 'more than' turnpike exit

| Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, 10:42 p.m.

New Stanton Council President Scott Sistek said he wants the community to be seen as more than just a stop off of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

The borough is working with the Westmoreland County planning department on a comprehensive plan to guide it through the next 10 years.

“I want to see it become more of a community, where there's more of a downtown business district,” Sistek said.

County planners proposed the idea of a new comprehensive plan last fall to coincide with PennDOT's $50 million in improvements to the borough's turnpike interchange.

PennDOT will start construction in 2015, moving the entrance and exit ramps to I-70 to relieve traffic in the borough. Construction will be completed in 2018.

New Stanton's existing comprehensive plan is more than 10 years old, and with the recent growth of the community and impending interchange upgrades it is time for a new one, said planning department Assistant Deputy Director Brian Lawrence.

“New Stanton is a rare borough in Westmoreland County and the region in that it's seen population growth over the last 20 years,” Lawrence said.

According to the U.S. Census, the borough had 1,908 residents in 2000 and 2,172 in 2010, an increase of nearly 14 percent.

Lawrence attributes the spike to the borough's large amount of undeveloped land and its proximity to the turnpike.

More houses are being built, and more businesses are coming to town. The comprehensive plan will help guide that growth, he said.

The plan, which will be developed by a third party, is estimated to cost more than $50,000.

The borough will apply for a state grant to cover up to half the cost.

If the money is granted, the borough and the county planning department will work together to select a company to design the plan.

“It's part of the county getting involved here with a lot of things and trying to help us out,” Sistek said. “This is one step in making our community a whole lot better.”

The plan developer will be asked to focus on five key areas, according to Lawrence: water and sewer, community facilities and services, economic development, transportation and land use.

Sistek said he hopes the plan will accelerate New Stanton's efforts to be seen as a community, not just a turnpike exit.

“We are more than that, and I think this will help us become more than that,” he said.

The most important thing is to design a plan that can be implemented, Lawrence said. Rather than listing vague goals and concepts, a good plan will have a concrete list of steps that can be followed, he said.

“In the past, comprehensive plans were funded and they became nice dust-catchers on a shelf,” he said.

The planning process could take several years, but there is a time limit. If state funds are used, the plan must be completed by 2018.

Jacob Tierney is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.He can be reached at 724-836-6646 or jtierney@tribweb.com.

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