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Zoning ordinance keeps even playing field, looked at as restriction

Cornered on the front page of the Friday, Nov. 17 Butler Eagle among articles about Lyme disease numbers, sewer rate increases and testimony in a murder trial was a story on a subject that could greatly impact future homebuyers and business owners indefinitely.

William Pitts’ article on zoning detailed an effort in traditionally rural Forward Township to assemble a 15-person committee to determine whether implementing a zoning ordinance would be feasible.

Supervisors in Forward Township hope to have a zoning process completed by mid 2024.

Forward’s consideration of a zoning ordinance is the result of increased residential and commercial growth in the township, which has traditionally remained a rural, farming municipality.

Like other municipalities near Cranberry Township, the county’s most populous area, Forward is feeling the spread of residences and businesses from that township.

Forward Township’s revised comprehensive plan includes the addition of a zoning plan, as U.S. census data shows the township’s population has jumped from 2,531 in 2010 to 3,164 in 2020.

Supervisor Mark Wilson predicts substantial growth over the next five to 10 years.

Middlesex Township, one of the county’s four original townships, has seen significant growth in the past 20 years as nearby Cranberry and Adams townships have grown residentially and commercially.

Middlesex first adopted a zoning ordinance in 1992, but the ordinance was entirely revised in 2006 to address the development spreading east toward the township.

Middlesex supervisors are now considering changes to the township zoning map to allow for the expansion of the types of businesses that have shown growth over the past 20 years.

But many people choose to live in municipalities without zoning ordinances so they can use and build on their properties as they choose and without the restrictions included in a zoning ordinance.

The Butler Eagle will watch with interest as both residential and commercial growth continues its march north and east from Cranberry Township and officials in once-bucolic municipalities — whose main concern for decades was road maintenance — work to regulating that growth.

– PG

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