Goddard School zoning declined in Upper St. Clair

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Despite the wishes of some parents, Upper St. Clair won't be home to a Goddard School anytime soon.

Township commissioners Monday declined to amend zoning regulations that would have allowed preschools in residential areas.

"We want to help the community. We want to provide services to the community," said Alexander Bunson, owner of property on North Highland Road. "We're not frying chicken. We're not serving alcohol."

Mr. Bunson's property is next to a KinderCare Learning Center and would have been the perfect location for a Goddard School, he said.

"There's nothing more constant than change," resident JoAnne Reed said. "We need a Goddard School in this community."

Resident Kim Burchill said she sends her children to the nearest Goddard, on McMurray Road in Peters, though she would prefer a location closer to home.

"I pay a lot of money to send my kids there, and I wouldn't want it any other way," she said.

But many residents who live near the site said traffic is already "horrendous" since the opening last year of a Trader Joe's market nearby.

With a projected enrollment of about 180 students, residents said they were worried about traffic jams.

"I don't think that school is the perfect fit for that location," resident Andrew James said.

The company has 385 franchises across the U.S., including locally in Moon, Wexford and Cranberry. The schools, based in King of Prussia, Pa., provide child care and preschool for children ages 6 weeks through 6 years.

Commissioners said they didn't doubt the value of the school, but said they were reluctant to alter long-standing zoning regulations for a single property.

"I just don't know if it's conducive to this neighborhood," Commissioner Russell Del Re said.

Preschools are allowed elsewhere in the township in commercially zoned districts or in residential neighborhoods if they are part of a religious facility. Though it's next door, the KinderCare facility is in Mt. Lebanon and not subject to the same zoning rules.

There was also a question whether the site had enough space for a school. Ordinarily, zoning regulations call for a minimum of 5 acres for schools, and Mr. Bunson's property is slightly less than 1 acre.

Other local Goddard Schools are on larger tracts of property, including the school in Peters, located on 6 acres.

Commissioner Donald Rectenwald Jr. made a motion to allow the zoning change, but it died for a lack of a second.

Also Monday, commissioners held the first of a two-part public hearing into a request by Residential Development & Construction Inc. of Bridgeville to build a new apartment complex on Boyce Plaza Road.

The company wants to begin construction this year of nine buildings with a total of 220 one- and two-bedroom units.

The site would include a park, trails, benches and a clubhouse and would be marketed to single, young professionals with rental fees of between $1,200 and $1,800 per month.

The planning commission in March recommended approval for the project, with several conditions, and the developer is asking for permission to install 1.6 parking spaces per unit, rather than two parking spaces, as required.

The developer has purchased the property and has financing in place for the project, a representative said.

A preliminary traffic study of the area shows a need for a left-turning lane on Boyce Plaza and eventually a traffic light, based on residential development projections. The developer is working with the township to make a contribution for upgraded lights and signals in the area.

More details will be discussed during the second part of the public hearing, set for 7:30 p.m. June 3.

Commissioners unanimously approved a plan to make part of Willowbrooke Extension a private cul-de-sac, after the developer had difficulty obtaining permission for a public road right-of-way from current property owners.

Developer Alan Sherwood plans to construct 15 homes in Willowbrooke with an underground storage tank for stormwater runoff.

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Janice Crompton: jcrompton@post-gazette.com or 412-851-1867.


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