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Location helps some areas grow

| Saturday, March 10, 2001, 12:00 p.m.


Two attributes of Peters Township convinced Charles and Diane McConville and their family to move there - the proximity of Southpointe and the reputation of the school district.

The family was among many who moved to Peters in the past decade, swelling the township's population by 21 percent from 1990 to 2000, according to census figures released Friday.

Peters is among a bloc of growing townships along the Allegheny-Washington county line. North and South Fayette townships in Allegheny County posted population gains of 28 percent and 19 percent, respectively. North Strabane and Cecil Township in Washington County increased by 23 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

Transportation is a key factor in the townships' growth, officials said.

The communities are along the proposed route for the Southern Beltway, a 30-mile toll road from state Route 60 at the Pittsburgh International Airport along the Allegheny/Washington county line to the Mon-Fayette Expressway in eastern Washington County. The four have links to existing highways, making for a short trip to Pittsburgh International Airport and Downtown Pittsburgh.

Southpointe was an attraction for the McConville family because Charles works there. The 600-acre business, recreational and residential development off Interstate 79 in Cecil is nearly filled a little more than seven years after its opening.

Lew Irwin, who retired from the military and moved into Peters, also said the Peters Township School District played a role in his decision to move to Peters.

The district recently completed a $24 million renovation and reconstruction of its high school. The district also recently opened a new elementary school.

A Claysville native, Irwin attended West Point in New York and taught there for a time. He now is a political science professor at Duquesne University.

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'When you live away from here for a while, you realize there's a good quality of life,' he said.

Irwin said he settled in Peters instead of returning to Claysville in part because it is close to Pittsburgh.

'We're just located well for people who want to live in a rural area or a less congested suburban area,' said Robert Grimm, township manager for North Fayette.

Tom Casciola, chairman of the Cecil Township Board of Supervisors, said access was the biggest key to the growth in Cecil.

Most of the township doesn't have sewer lines, Casciola said, and the township is trying to connect existing houses and businesses to sewer lines.

'We're really not trying to encourage vacant land to be developed,' he said.

Casciola said an indication of growth is that the township now surfaces roads with asphalt, moving away from the tar-and-chip method. In tar-and-chip, tar is laid down for the roadbed, and gravel chips are laid down over the tar. He said asphalt is more expensive, but it lasts longer and is a better surface.

The Canon-McMillan School District - serving Cecil, Canonsburg and North Strabane, - grew by about 8 percent over the last decade and is renovating its high school, the second in a seven-school project.

A new high school is being built to serve South Fayette and its growing population, and the West Allegheny School District, which includes North Fayette, renovated its high school. The district is renovating the middle school, and plans are being made for a new elementary school.

Vince Guerrieri can be reached at vguerrieri@tribweb.com or at (412) 306-4533.

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