Cranberry Township developer seeks 'Main St.' appeal

57-acre Meeder project outlined

September 5, 2018 Cranberry Local News

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Work continues on Rochester Road near the Meeder property, where a proposed 11-phase project would include single family homes, apartments and retail areas.

CRANBERRY TWP — Developer Rob Bowman wants to give Cranberry Township a community with “main street” appeal.

Details on the proposed residential development and how traffic concerns about the project would be addressed were outlined Thursday during the supervisors meeting.

The Meeder project is a multiuse facility proposed for a 57.30-acre plot of land off Route 19, on the former Meeder farm. The property is situated between Route 19 and Rochester, Ogle View and Unionville roads.

According to Ron Henshaw, township planning and development services director, the development would be built in 11 phases. It includes 71 single family homes, 260 single family town homes of various designs, 276 apartment units in two buildings and 28 additional units in second floor apartments that would be above retail spaces.

The property also would include a pool, community center, pedestrian and bike paths and parks, Henshaw said.

Henshaw said the project is possible due to a zoning change approved by supervisors in December. Through that move, the property was “down zoned” to reduce the amount of retail space and increase the number residential units.

This was done, Henshaw said, after the idea of heavy retail was found to be “practically impossible” due to the high volume of increased traffic associated with retail.

4-step traffic plan

The project addresses increases in traffic in four steps, according to Jason Kratsas, township director of engineering.

The first is a connection between Ogle View and Rochester roads through the development via a “main street.” This would provide additional distribution for traffic to and from northwest Cranberry.

Additionally, the intersection of Unionville and Ogle View roads and the main street would be made into a roundabout. This would also eliminate the tight angles on Ogle View, Kratsas said.

Improvements also would be made along Rowan Road to increase traffic flow, he said.

The largest project to address traffic involves turning Rochester Road into a four-lane highway from Route 19 to Graham School Road. Kratsas said the plan would share an entrance with the Municipal Building, with traffic signals and turn lanes used to address backups.

Two additional turning lanes would be placed at St. Ferdinand Roman Catholic Church and at the Thompson Park Drive intersection. The right lane would turn into an exclusive right turn at Graham School Road, he said.

Kratsas said the proposal to PennDOT also includes traffic islands at various points along the road.

A piece of history

Bowman, president of developer Charter Homes and Neighborhoods, further outlined the project, which has been dubbed “Meeder.” Bowman said he had an eye on the property for several years, and was quick to act when it became available again last year.

He said in subsequent meetings with the family he grew to love the history of both the barn and home on the property, as well as the family's ties to the township.

“I came to appreciate the story of not only Cranberry Township, but a family that is part of Cranberry Township's history,” he said, adding the family gave its blessing to use the Meeder name on the plan.

The home, barn and other buildings on the property will be restored and preserved, Bowman said. Almost more importantly, Bowman said, the context of those buildings will be saved, as nothing will be built around those structures.

“That piece along (Route) 19 will stay pretty much how it is,” he said.

Bowman said officials recently met with the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Trust to discuss a plan for an easement. Under the plan, the neighborhood association would own the land, while the trust would have an easement on the property that would determine use, maintenance and upkeep requirements.

While the initial work would be paid for by the developer, the maintenance and any future work would be funded through the neighborhood association. Officials from the trust would also visit to inspect the property regularly, Bowman said.

This image shows the proposed development on the Meeder property at the corner of Route 19 and Rochester Road in Cranberry Township.

Town atmosphere

Bowman said the concept behind the plan is to focus on giving residents places to walk, gather and engage within the community.

He said the Crossroads at Meeder would include spaces for a coffee shop, salon, pet store, yoga facility, bar or brewery, and athletic facility and other retail, which Bowman hopes would create a “main street” for the township.

Other areas include the Meeder Promenade, with more retail space, and the Terra Park, an all-natural playground and gathering space. It also includes various green spaces and parks to create a “multigenerational neighborhood” atmosphere.

Resolving issues

Only one person spoke during the public comment portion of the hearing. The resident of Sherwood Oaks, a retirement community situated next to the property, said she and about 40 others gathered from the community were concerned about stormwater runoff and how it would impact ponds and walking paths.

Henshaw earlier said there would be two stormwater ponds on the property, as well as underground tanks to address runoff.

Dick Hadley, supervisor chairman, said he and township officials would meet with Sherwood Oaks residents to answer their questions and concerns.

The board voted Thursday to continue the public hearing until 6:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Cranberry Highlands Golf Course. The proposal could be considered at the board meeting Oct. 4.

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