As a graduate of Peters Township High School, Barrett Hoskins would prefer to live in the community in which he was raised. But the 26-year-old Realtor makes his home in the more affordable neighborhood of Library.
Mr. Hoskins was among those who spoke Monday at a Peters council public hearing on a proposed new comprehensive plan to guide development in the township over the next decade.
He said Peters offers few housing options for people his age, in the "young professional demographic," or for older residents who seek to move into smaller, lower-maintenance homes.
"I think there's definitely a high demand for these types of properties," Mr. Hoskins told council.
The comprehensive plan, which has been unanimously recommended by the township planning commission for council's approval, addresses concerns about housing choices and diversity by calling for several future land-use designations that are not part of the current zoning ordinance.
An example is the mixed residential designation, which would "promote a wide range of housing choices: condominiums, townhouses, small lot single-family, duplexes, senior living or apartments," according to the latest draft of the comprehensive plan.
Provisions for variety in housing drew support from some Peters residents, including Joe and Maria Lane, real estate agents who have lived in the township for 22 years.
"We would like to stay in the township after we retire," Mr. Lane said, noting the growing market for patio homes and similar types of residences. "We are constantly looking, for ourselves and our clients, for this type of housing. Right now, there are no housing opportunities in Peters to accommodate this type of demand."
Township planning director Ed Zuk told the Post-Gazette he estimates that about 95 percent of the housing in the township is single-family, detached homes.
Real estate developer Joseph DeNardo, a 12-year Peters resident, also commended efforts toward "more flexible zoning."
"I'm hoping that the township provides more opportunity for the type of housing we might need," he said. "This type of approach to planning is absolutely mission-critical if you want a 21st-century community."
The public comment portion of Monday's hearing followed a presentation on the comprehensive plan by Paul LeBlanc of LSL Planning Inc. of Grand Rapids, Minn., the company hired to develop the plan for $150,000.
Mr. LeBlanc provided a summary of the 115-page document, focusing on such aspects as the public involvement component of its development and how residents' comments and suggestions helped form the core of the plan.
Pennsylvania requires municipalities to update their comprehensive plans every 10 years. Peters last did so in 2001.
The proposed 2013 plan still is subject to adoption by council, which next meets Monday.
The document includes a section addressing implementation, stating in part: "A continued effort to focus attention on the plan's vision and recommendations and to further promote community participation in making the plan a reality will be essential activities."
For details of the comprehensive plan: www.planpeters.com.neigh_south - neigh_washington
Harry Funk, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.