ET commissioners consider new land development plan

  By ERIC SLAGLE Daily News Staff Writer

  Elizabeth Township board of commissioners is in the process of adopting a new ordinance regulating land development that will require greater planning from developers. Township Solicitor John Rushford said the new ordinance — which was discussed in a public hearing and received preliminary approval from commissioners Monday — will replace existing outdated and insufficient rules governing development in the township that date to the 1980s. In addition to requiring more in the way of planning and engineering from commercial and residential developers, the ordinance also will call for more green spaces and buffering between buildings, streets and in parking lots. “They would have to provide street names, street trees, what kind of buffering they’re going to have between houses,” Rushford said. “Realy, a lot of detail so that it’s really not left up to chance how the development will come out.” Rushford said the new ordinance does not impose any new direct fees or costs on developers, but the added cost of additional engineering required to comply with the new ordinance likely will add cost to builders’ bottom lines. Rushford said the new ordinance is an approximately 150page document, whereas the existing ordinance is only six pages long. Existing buildings and projects will be grandfathered in under the current ordinance. Rushford said the new ordinance is aimed at builders of commercial and multi-unit residential properties, not individual home builders. Commission President



Joanne Beckowitz said the township is moving in the right direction with the new ordinance, which will be up for a second reading and approval at the board’s next regular meeting. “It needed updated,” she said. In other news, the commission approved the resignation of police Officer Jeff Beatty, who’s taken a full-time position with police in Jefferson Hills. Police Chief Robert McNeilly said the department hopes to hire a new officer or officers to be paid with funds from a U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services grant for which it is applying. He said the department anticipates it will hire another officer this year. Currently, the department employs 10 full-time officers. On a related note, Commissioner Bob Thomas said the board has not discussed nor set up any committees to examine the results of a preliminary police feasibility study recently conducted by the state Department of Community and Economic Development and presented to the township and three other municipalities last week. The study examined various factors, including budget and police needs in Elizabeth Township , Elizabeth, Forward Township and West Elizabeth, and created scenarios in which a single police force would serve all four communities, or one force would continue to serve Forward Township by itself and another force would serve the other three communities. The four municipalities have until the end of the month to determine if they want to move forward with consolidation or merger plans. If they do, officials say additional studies will be required.

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