To The Entire Board Of Supervisors Of Moon Township,
It has been nearly a year since I sent you this letter that was sent to the Board of Supervisors in response to the Comprehensive Planning meeting of May 9, 2012. A full year has passed for the board to act and rezone the property that Walmart Corporation owns and has been unable to develop as a result of MoonFirst’s actions.
MoonFirst is a community group that has resisted the idea of a big box development with a single use located in the heart of Moon Township. MoonFirst has pressed the Board of Supervisors to move ahead and rezone that property in case Walmart decides to sell their property or abandon their current development plan and propose a distribution warehouse, with continuous day and night tractor trailer traffic, in the heart of Moon Township.
The city of Pittsburgh is developing such mixed-use projects all throughout the East End corridor. Penn Ave. all around the old Nabisco factory and now the old Reisenstein Middle School are either demolished or redeveloped into mixed-use project and thriving.
Residential and commercial and retail are all combined with these projects. Google, hotels, and retail are all working together. Reisenstein Middle School is now gone and a mixed-use development project will be built with condo living surrounded by retail and flex use commercial.
Moon Township has its head in the sand as the City of Pittsburgh, and other communities see the future of development, and it does not include big box stores, or warehouses in the heart of their communities.
The Board of Supervisors has wasted an entire year avoiding this rezoning necessity. We do not have time to waste anymore. Rezoning takes time, and time already has been wasted!
Below is the original letter sent to you regarding a move to rezone the property to mixed-use, with a vision in mind that would enhance the town center vision, and the overall quality of life for Moon Township.
I attended the Comprehensive Planning meeting on May 9, 2012, and presented a serious concern I had to those attending. What is of serious importance is the Walmart property. There are rumors, and some being very credible, that Walmart may not be building a superstore, or any store, on the property.
At this time, they have not obtained their desired HOP (editor's note: Highway Occupancy Permit) from PennDOT. There are, no doubt, troubling issues regarding the Beaver Grade/Brodhead rds., and University Blvd. intersection.
If Walmart fails to obtain an HOP, and decides to abandon a building project, the township must change the zoning on that property to limit the size of box stores to one that is no bigger than, for example, Bottom Dollar grocery stores, and place the property under the 2000 Comprehensive Plan’s Overlay District. In addition, the zoning designation could be labeled as mixed residential/commercial use.
The township officials failed to do this prior to the sale of the nearly foreclosed property that Walmart bought on-the-cheap. THE CHANGES MUST BE DONE NOW!
The township officials, and many, many citizens worked very hard on the 2000 Comprehensive Plan and had a vision of a town center concept for the community. This concept never developed because of failed vision. Today we have an opportunity to redeem ourselves and put this vision back where it belongs—front and center.
Such a fulfilled concept would enhance our township, as well as our largest business entity—Robert Morris University.
It is my vision that the township creates a land use authority in order to buy the Walmart property by floating a bond. We purchase the property, and partner with a developer, who could design a town center on that property, as well as with Parkhurst Dining Corporation and RMU.
The design could have a small covered stage for performances in the center, with benches, trees, and other plantings lined with parking all along the center circle in both directions. The buildings could be built in a horseshoe like manner around the center park setting.
The building would be mixed use with commercial on the first floor, and efficiency apartments on the second floor. Such an accommodation could benefit the senior citizen rental needs, as well as single people just starting out as they graduate RMU students or those in the work force.
The first floor could be small retail store configurations, offices, and flex-space configurations for R and D type needs. Robert Morris University might be able to entice R&D to locate into such a space if they have private sector partners who might want to locate close to the university, such as Google, and IBM, and the defense department have done with CMU in the city of Pittsburgh.
Also in my vision, I see an RMU-type food court located in the first floor configuration to support the needs of the many people who could actually walk to such a restaurant from the surrounding area. This could be an opportunity for the Eat N’ Park parent corporation—Parkhurst Dining Corporation, to use that location as a residential pilot project, as well.
There is a strong need for senior independent living in Moon Township, and by building efficiency apartments along the top floor of a first floor commercial project, we could begin to solve that concern. In addition, a food court of such quality could be an opportunity for seniors to eat healthy for a reasonable cost.
I want to remind everyone that the township can create a land-use authority. The township created an authority to buy and manage a golf course, which was purchased from the Heinlein family.
The township could create a mixed use development that would finally bring a town center to the community adding a new dimension to what is now a pass-through corridor and community. Such a development would also create the atmosphere of a university town, which would only enhance the area outside the beautiful campus of Robert Morris University. The thousands of students that live on campus would have the chance to enjoy a town center they could walk to, shop, and eat in their free time. An open WiFi system would also be created with park benches, grass, trees, flowers and shrubs.
Instead of sinking new dollars into the existing Moon Township library, the library could be relocated to this plaza meeting their specific needs. Also, the MCA-TV studio could be relocated to this plaza, as well. The new studio could be designed specifically for the growing needs of this community, and region.
I fully encourage our officials to not waste a minute on this major concern. WE MUST move forward on changing the zoning, creating a mixed use designation for the property, limiting the box store footprint size, and placing the site directly into the overlay district.
Then, I encourage the township to move forward to buy this property. This chance is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make right the mistakes of the past.
Thank you for the opportunity to state my opinions and submit for the record this incredible need that would only improve the quality of life for those living and working in Moon Township.
—Jerry Pearl, Moon Township.
What do you think? Is Walmart a good fit for Moon Township.