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Township designing own vision

| Thursday, May 15, 2003

Pine officials aren't waiting for a developer's vision of what a town center should be, they're designing one themselves and hope a developer will take the project on.

The "illustrative plan" for the town center will cover a region of about 200 undeveloped acres up and down the Route 19 corridor near Wallace Road, said Scott Anderson, code enforcement officer for the township.

Mary Kopaskie, a planner with Peter J. Smith & Co., the firm hired to complete the plan, said it is merely a way to link the old Wexford area to the new town center.

"It could include public facilities, it could include housing, it could include all those amenities that you could expect to find in the downtown of a city," Kopaskie said. "It shows future potentials in terms of land uses. It shows circulation, potential layout of buildings."

Drawing up the designs and clearing the way for implementation of the plan is expected to cost between $30,000 and $40,000.

Pine manager Gary Koehler said the plan will not limit the developer's creativity, but merely create a framework for a developer to work within.

"The concept was -- as opposed to a developer bringing in plans-- the township would bring in plans to what the town center would look like and hand it to the developer and say, 'design this.'"

The illustrative plan was a concept outlined in Pine's recently adopted comprehensive plan drafted by Peter J. Smith & Co., of Buffalo, N.Y.

The Smith and Co. planners "feel that this is the way you can get all the parts of the town center that you want, by helping (developers) design the town center," Koehler said.

Koehler said some features township officials want to see built into the town center include on-street parking, access ways and a central feature such as a pavilion for musical performances or a fountain.

Anderson said most of the land is owned by Oxford Development Company and that some of the concepts have been delivered to Oxford planners.

Frank Molinero, senior vice president of real estate for Oxford, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

If the town center becomes a reality, township officials are optimistic it will help give the community a place to think of when they think of Pine Township.

Kopaskie said a lot of people who responded to a survey that preceded the development of the comprehensive plan commented that they didn't feel Pine had an identity that set it apart from its neighbors.

Koehler said people wanting to imagine what a town center could look like should think of the Waterfront concept in Homestead.

"I don't want to say that's exactly what you want, because everything is different, but take the good parts of that and say that's what we like -- buffers, trees, screened parking, central focus courtyard," Koehler said. We're trying to show (developers) the way. It's so that everybody's working on the same page."

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