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Ross Planning Commission: Yes to Northway Rezoning, No to Highland CC Homes Plan, Yes to Cemetery Lane Townhouses

None of the recommendations is binding with the final decision in the hands of the Ross board of Commissioners.

Heartland Homes Development

The Ross Township Planning Commission voted 4-3 Thursday night not to recommend tentative approval for a planned residential development of the former Highland Country Club property. 

  

Prior to the vote, landscape architect Steven Victor outlined several changes to the development proposal:

  • Entrance off of Golf Drive would be eliminated.
  • Two of the entrances off of Highland Avenue would be moved closer to Wellington Drive.
  • A traffic impact study would be conducted beginning Jan. 8.

The next step will be a public hearing on the revised proposal before the Ross Township board of commissioners on Jan. 7.

Northway Elementary Rezoning

The planning commission did recommend rezoning the site of the former Northway Elementary school from residential to commercial.

A key change in that plan was the elimination of a proposed entrance to the mall from the intersection of Brown's Lane and Marie Drive, where the current entrance to the school exists.

Gary O'Nesti, Special Projects Director for Levey and Company, admitted that he heard "loud and clear" from neighbors at a Dec. 5 meeting that an entrance at that location was not in the best interest of residents living along Brown's Lane.

Other key points from O'Nesti's presentation:

  • Discussions with potential tenants include office, retail, and restaurants.
  • There is the potential of a hotel as part of the development, depending on the demand by the hotel industry.
  • Planning is still very preliminary and any construction is 18 months away.
  • Levey & Company would invest money in the current property to lure temporary tenants and demonstrate that the mall would be coming back to life.

A number of residents who live near Northway elementary offered comments both pro and con:

  • Con: fears of Wal-Mart moving in.
  • Con: worried about noise, bright lights, and excessive signage.
  • Pro: rare opportunity for development by a company with a proven track record
  • Pro: Chance of make Northway Mall a destination point in Ross Township

The next step will be a public hearing before the Ross Board of Commissioners on Feb. 4.

Cemetery Lane Townhouses

The planning commission also voted to recommend approval of the construction of more than 40 townhouses along Cemetery Lane.

The owner, When Raymond Caldwell, Jr., told the planning commission Ryan homes will be the builder, and the townhouses will cost in the neighborhood of $200,000. The planning commission recommendation is based on a satisfactory geotechnical analysis.

The Ross commissioners will consider the plan their next meeting on Jan. 7.

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Kevin Y. December 25, 2012 at 12:53 PM
What is the basis for your assertion that 300 new homes will cause a collapse of the water supply for the North Hills area? Is that what the West View Water Authority, which supplies water to the North Hills area, believes? Are we to believe that the current supply system is in such an incredibly fragile state? What is the acceptable number of homes in this development, 100? 200?
Kevin Y. December 25, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Great ideas! Why didn't you buy the property and keep the restaurant open and make the golf course a public park? Could it be that this was not an economically viable option? The only way this was going to happen was if Ross Township had spare millions of taxpayers money to spend on this project. Given that Ross can barely manage to keep it's 23 current parks in decent shape that was not going to happen, at least not without substantial tax increases... The best estimates are that this development will add 200-300 new students to the North Hills school system. The enrollment in the North Hills School district between the 2010-11 and 2011-2012 school years dropped by 249 students, reflecting the steady decline in population. There is no reason to believe that this development will lead to an unmanageable "explosion" in student population. Yes, YOU would not buy a home in this development. However, Heartland Homes has ample experience in these developments and feels that building these type of homes here is a good risk. And the risk is all theirs. Some people like buying new homes of which there are precious few in West View or Ross. Some people like Heartland Homes which is why their developments are usually successful. I sometimes wonder if people were this upset back in 1905 when they first started to chop up the hills north of Pittsburgh and cram all these houses into West View...
michael c newmeyer December 28, 2012 at 03:51 PM
My concern with this development is all the years of pesticides dumped into the earth now becoming air borne with all the earth moving. What health risks to the community and the children at High Cliff ? I think i'll call the EPA . Michael C
J Koehler December 31, 2012 at 12:53 PM
The proposal for the golf course by Heartland's design team is the work of someone with one goal, maximize the profits for their client. If the commissioners are wise and are able to get the developers on the same page with the goals of the community then I am confident that a successful "middle-ground" could be found. The design team needs to approach this with the mindset that Ross Twp is the real client. Two things that are most often mentioned by the neighbors are, the traffic increases, and the loss of a "historic" amenity. If this was a development that had the communities best interest in mind then the design team would be forced to get creative; and not simply put forth the amateurish design that is currently on the boards.
Becky Jarold January 05, 2013 at 03:28 PM
@Kevin Y. The large community that surrounds HCC property could each purchase 2 acres of land for the community park. This has happened and can happen. Who is going to start the walk and the petition?? I am in.

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