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North Huntingdon housing growth bucks region's declining trend

Joe Napsha
| Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, 12:12 p.m.
House under construction in Tuscan Hills plan in North Huntingdon
House under construction in Tuscan Hills plan in North Huntingdon
Home under construction in Tuscan Hills plan in North Huntingdon
Home under construction in Tuscan Hills plan in North Huntingdon

A quality school district, lower taxes than neighboring Allegheny County and the proximity to Pittsburgh are some of the reasons behind a spike in home construction in North Huntingdon, the township's top planning official believes.

The township along Westmoreland County's western border in 2017 had a 37 percent increase in construction of single-family homes.

“Certainly, the Norwin School District is a big draw for North Huntingdon, as well as low taxes and a relatively easy commute to Pittsburgh,” said Andrew Blenko, township planning director. “I think North Huntingdon and Murrysville both enjoy this geographical advantage.”

There were 104 construction projects for single-family homes in North Huntingdon last year, compared to 80 in 2016. That is an indication of the housing market rebounding, but not a return to the levels before the recession that began in September 2008, Blenko said.

Community amenities such as the Norwin Public Library and the township's network of parks factor into the rise in housing starts, he said.

Prior to 2017, North Huntingdon had not topped 100 new home starts since 2010. But Blenko said that was an anomaly because starting in 2011, new single-family homes were required to have sprinklers. That prompted a lot of builders to file for permits in December 2010, which depressed the totals for 2011. The sprinkler requirement was later rescinded, Blenko said.

In December, Tuscan Hills, a Ryan Homes plan on Barnes Lake Road, was the leading housing plan for new starts in 2017, accounting for 21 percent, Blenko said. The first phase of the plan had 33 lots, all of which sold. In 2016, construction on 11 new homes started there.

A spokesman for NVR Inc. of Reston, Va., parent firm of Ryan Homes, declined to comment on its housing initiative in North Huntingdon.

Bob Shuster of Shuster Custom Homes, another housing plan developer in North Huntingdon, could not be reached for comment.

Housing starts in North Huntingdon in 2016 and '17 bucked the trend seen elsewhere in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, which encompasses Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties. Housing starts in the seven-county area fell to 1,888 in 2017, compared to 4,403 in 2016, according to statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau's Building Permits Survey.

Statewide, housing permits dropped to 22,509 in 2017, from 23,303 in 2016.

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

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