Developers sure must like that 17-acre parcel of land across Route 21 from the east entrance to the Greene County Fairgrounds outside Waynesburg.
Last week, the Franklin Township supervisors approved a sewage planning module for a 33-lot residential development off Powell Lane. Kirby Development LLC plans to build the Castle Oaks residential development on the same property that had been considered for a 50-home, single-family development for low-and moderate-income residents two years ago by Woda Group LLC of Westerville, Ohio.
Woda eventually dropped its plans after facing stiff opposition from neighboring property owners concerned about the potential for decreasing property values and increasing crime because of the nature of the development.
It surprised us somewhat when the new development was described as “top quality” and will not be for low-income residents. We would hope the township’s code enforcement officer was not suggesting low-income residents do not deserve to live in “top quality” housing.
We wonder if Woda’s plans might have been approved had they given more thought to their presentation to township officials. Along with concerns about crime, justified or not, nearby residents also maintained they received little notification about the project, and weren’t informed by the township until after it had been reviewed and recommended for approval by the township planning commission.
According to the most recent proposal, the development will contain 45 houses. Woda, by the way, had proposed a 50-home development.
Undoubtedly, Kirby Development will make sure its proposal is complete and meets all ordinance and code requirements. Unfortunately for Woda, its project was advanced too quickly – in less than two weeks, as a matter of fact – after Woda learned extra points would be available under a project rating system used by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency for funding to develop affordable housing in areas where there is a great amount of Marcellus Shale activity.
We have to agree, however, with Woda officials who said it was a shame the plan had not moved forward. Independent market research indicates a need for affordable housing in the county, and the company had hoped to play a role in helping to meet part of those needs.
And, there is no doubt there remains a substantial need for affordable housing in Greene County. According to county officials, more than 5,000 county households would have qualified to live in the Woda homes.
We think this could have been a good development and a necessary one for county residents, but the facts never had a fair shot and never got out.
Let’s hope some valuable lessons were learned and Kirby Development doesn’t drop the ball. While we are pleased to see new housing development occur in Greene County, we still believe there is a vital need for more housing, no matter what the income level of a potential homeowner is.