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Middlesex Township adopts final comprehensive plan

MIDDLESEX TWP — After more than a year of discussion and back-and-forth, Middlesex Township set in place a foundation for the next 10 to 20 years of its development on Wednesday evening, June 19.

At its monthly meeting, the board of supervisors formally adopted the final version of the proposed comprehensive plan for the township, which had been in the works since May of last year.

The Pittsburgh firm Environmental Planning & Design put together the new plan with the help of a steering committee comprised of 11 township residents.

A comprehensive plan is a broad outline for the future of a municipality and establishes a framework for urban planning, land development and public policy. Until Wednesday, Middlesex Township hadn’t updated its plan since 2004’s “Vision 2020,” a joint plan in cooperation with Butler County, Allegheny County and Richland Township.

The new comprehensive plan for Middlesex boiled down to three major priorities: amend the existing zoning ordinance, deliver quality services and investments in civic infrastructure, and enrich the township’s civic assets and identity. For most residents who had a say in the plan, that last one was the primary concern.

The new plan took into consideration feedback from a survey the township performed in mid-2023, which gathered responses from 91 residents. Although the township has seen a population growth of 32% since 2010, nearly four-fifths of the survey responses came from those who have lived in the township for over a decade.

“Several respondents want to limit commercial and residential development and others want to see an increase,” reads the June revision of the comprehensive plan, which is available online. “However, the majority of the responses thus far want a decrease or limit in development and upgrades to public infrastructure that can support the existing population before introducing increased density.”

Township manager Jeffrey Winkle said he’s satisfied the plan addresses the concerns of residents, many of whom want to preserve as much of the township’s existing character as possible.

“I think everyone did a great job in balancing the existing Middlesex Township with some of its areas of rural character along with some environmentally sensitive areas, along with addressing that there will be some change with new development,” Winkle said. “I think the comp plan captures all that and does a good job in providing a guiding document for the next 10 years for Middlesex Township.”

Winkle said that the then-draft version of the plan went through some minor revisions over the past month based on public comment from the time it was last discussed at a meeting last month.

“There were some cleanup items that were addressed based on public comment,” Winkle said. “Overall, everybody involved was very happy with the final outcome.”

One resident who was mostly satisfied with the steering committee’s efforts was T. Lyle Ferderber, the treasurer for the Glade Run Lake Conservancy. He was glad the township took into consideration the conservancy’s concerns about preserving the watershed around Glade Run.

“We are satisfied that our needs for consideration of conservation that would help the lake be preserved were considered,” Ferderber said.

However, as comprehensive plans are not binding legal documents, Ferderber still hopes that the township’s consideration will translate into action to preserve the Glade Run watershed.

“If the township uses the comprehensive plan as a guideline … then many citizens, especially our Glade Run Lake board, will be very happy. If they don't use it as a guideline, then this was an exercise in futility.”

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