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Ipnar Road rezoning request draws opposition, support in North Huntingdon

Joe Napsha
| Friday, Nov. 10, 2017, 3:21 p.m.

North Huntingdon residents on Thursday met a developer's request to rezone 30 acres along Ipnar Road for a housing project with passionate opposition stemming from concerns over traffic safety issues.

Others expressed support for the project, which includes 20 patio homes, each with two units, and two estate homes.

Residents living in the proposed housing plan would create traffic problems because Ipnar Road is poorly maintained and has safety issues with sharp curves and poor drainage that leaves it icy in the winter, said David Iwinski, who lives on the roadway.

“It is possibly the worst road in North Huntingdon Township,” Iwinski said. “Children will be put in danger by this.”

Iwinski and others testified during a 45-minute public hearing before township commissioners who are considering a request by Donato Pasquarelli to rezone his property between Ipnar Road and Hemlock Drive from an R-3 single family residential classification to a planned residential development designation. The property abuts Woodridge Estates at the southern end of the parcel, and the northern end is along Barnes Lake Road.

The patio homes, with a two-car garage, would range in price from $325,000 to $350,000, said Chad Stafford, project engineer for Penn Terra Engineering Inc. of State College.

Commissioners likely will not vote on the rezoning request until next month, said Andrew Blenko, township planning director. North Huntingdon is required to advertise any proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance before a vote. The rezoning request from Pasquarelli Property Management LLC was recommended for approval by the township planning commission.

Iwinski said commissioners need traffic and environmental studies before taking any vote.

Attorney Bruce Dice, township solicitor, said commissioners would vote on the rezoning request, not any plans for the site. The developer would have to submit a site plan for approval, Dice said.

Pasquarelli in January had proposed a project for 44 garden-home units but withdrew the request after opposition arose to the plans. The revised proposal reduces the number of units to 42 and eliminates a proposed community center.

Blenko characterized the proposed housing project as a “low-impact development” that concentrates housing units in a smaller area, thus allowing for more green space.

Stafford said the developer has proposed adding a 3.4-acre buffer for wetlands and a stream by transferring that acreage from his adjoining Woodridge Estates plan. Adding the buffer would increase the parcel to 30 acres, the minimum required for a planned residential development.

In an area zoned for single family development, Pasquarelli could build 52 single-family homes, Stafford said. Iwinski said two gas wells, natural gas pipelines and wetlands would limit the scope of development at the site.

Addressing the safety concerns raised, Stafford said access from Ipnar Road would be moved to a different location that allows motorists better visibility of oncoming traffic. Trees and brush along Ipnar Road would be cut to increase sight lines beyond what is required, the engineer said.

Dennis Diffenderfer of Woodridge Estates expressed support for the rezoning request.

“I think the proposal is very adequate,” Diffenderfer said, but he noted that “nothing has been done” to improve Ipnar Road.

If Pasquarelli gets the necessary approvals for the project, construction would not begin until 2019, he said last week.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252.

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