Allegheny Township hoping mapping will aid growth
ALLEGHENY TOWNSHIP: Officials are trying to map almost every facet of the township, pulling maps of farms over maps of buildings and seeing what's left.
They've taken maps of nearly a dozen types and used a computer program to superimpose them.
All that mapping, supervisors hope, will give them a better bird's-eye view of the township so they can spot growth trends and better keep urban sprawl from ruining the township's rural atmosphere.
More than 40 people came to a Geographic Information Systems workshop at the township municipal building Thursday. While the meeting wasn't intended solely to showcase the township's use of the complex mapping system, people got to see on a computer what Allegheny Township would look like if completely "built up," with homes and businesses on all the useable residential and commercial land.
The result, according to the computer model, was that nearly 20,000 more homes and almost 200 new businesses could be built under current zoning. This could lead to a population of more than 50,000, requiring new schools, new roads and much fewer trees and fields, said Supervisors Chairman Howard Baybrook.
That township now has many fewer homes and businesses: About 2,500 houses and 90 businesses. Supervisors may hire a township manager in light of possible growth.
"We'll use (Geographic Information Systems mapping) to determine how we want to change our zoning and subdivision ordinances to really match our vision of the township," said Baybrook. "Everybody wants this place to be rural, but with our present ordinances, you won't have a very rural township."
People will always be able to build on their land, which can't be stopped, but zoning districts can be changed to control growth, Baybrook said.
A committee of residents is working on the next phase of a comprehensive plan for the township to address what ordinances should be changed. Baybrook couldn't say when the plan would be finished.
The township's GIS use is a result of the last comprehensive plan, which concluded the township could benefit from seeing a hypothetical map to show how the township would look if developed completely.
The layers of the GIS map that have been superimposed to include a zoning layer, a tax parcel layer, and Allegheny Township's forests, farms, sewage, roads, all buildings and housing plans, wetlands, flood plains, historic sites and places where there are scenic views.
The map is based on an aerial photo of the township that Westmoreland County took in the mid-1990s.