Morris housing development a good sign for western Greene Co.

October 11, 2015
Jim McNutt/Observer-Reporter Exterior of the Observer-Reporter building in Washington.

Morris Township supervisors announced last week plans for a housing development to be built on 100 acres of land donated by Consol Energy.

The announcement was significant because no housing projects were developed in the western part of Greene County for longer than anyone can remember and the manner in which the plan is being accomplished – through a partnership between the township and the energy company.

The supervisors have not engaged a developer to assist with the project, but they hope the property, just north of Nineveh between Carter Road and Route 18, will provide enough space for up to 50 “nice,” single-family homes on one-half acre lots.

With all the talk about a need for housing in Greene County, we think the supervisors have the right idea.

Discussions regarding housing countywide focused in the last few years on addressing needs resulting from the influx of workers associated with the natural gas industry. That factor has impacted western Greene County as much as it has any other part of the county.

But western Greene County over the years also suffered a loss of population, some of which has been attributed to property owners who decided to sell their homes to the coal company before their properties are undermined.

Speaking at an event at which the project was announced last Wednesday, West Greene Superintendent Thelma Szarell spoke of the declining enrollment in her school district in recent years.

She cited as one of the factors for that loss the lack of housing.

People would like to live in the area, but simply can’t find homes for sale or land on which to build, township Supervisor Roger Creech said. The lack of water and sewer infrastructure also creates a strong impediment for building new homes in the area.

Township supervisors have been discussing and working on the housing project for about seven years, according to Supervisor Bob Keller.

The issue of developing the necessary infrastructure was considered and also partly resolved as a result of the partnership between the township and coal company.

In addition to donating the land, Consol built a sewage treatment plant to serve as a portal for its Harvey Mine. It made the plant large enough not only to serve the 42 existing homes in Nineveh, which are now already connected to the system, but also for the planned housing development.

A plan to extend a water line from Waynesburg to Nineveh also is in the works. Interestingly enough, that, too, is the result of a partnership between the water authority and another energy company, Vantage Energy.

Maybe there’s something to this partnership thing. The idea certainly appears to have served the township well.

We do believe credit should be given to the township supervisors who had the vision of developing new housing in the community and realized the importance of working with Consol toward that end.

Credit also must be given to Consol, whose contributions are helping the community realize a project the community itself sees as being most important and which could lead not only to the community’s preservation but also its growth.

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