Deerfield Manor

 
 
 


Neighborhood Development


In March 2008 Bill and Jeff Thomas purchased 70 undeveloped acres and 22 buildable lots in Deerfield Manor. You may have seen their For Sale signs in the neighborhood. If you are curious, or know someone who might be interested in purchasing a lot, you might want to check out these plot plans.

Later, the Thomas family and the Township of Upper St Clair began a process to rezone property at the entrance to Deerfield Manor. This page is updated whenever we get new information about that process.


Table of Contents
Monthly Update (Jan 25, 2010)
Monthly Update (Dec 14, 2009)
Monthly Update (Nov 20, 2009)
Focus Group Report (Oct 12, 2009)
Focus Group Announced (Oct 2, 2009)
Rezoning Effort Announced (Feb, 2009)

Map of Property Affected
The Homeowners Association Viewpoint
Frequently Asked Questions
Contact Information

 

Monthly Update
January 25, 2010

The homeowners association submitted a complaint to the Township of Upper St Clair about the lack of soil erosion and sediment controls on at seven locations on property recently cleared by Thomas Homes along Redfern, Hollow Tree, Turnberry, and Merry Oak, and about wood chips left in the middle of the road at the end of Redfern. The Township was already aware of these problems, was already taking them seriously, and promised that they would be resolved quickly.

 

Monthly Update
December 14, 2009

Jesse Thomas provided the homeowners association with an update on the Thomas family's plans for developing the property that it owns in and around the neighborhood. There are several significant developments.

North Side of Boyce Road:
Jesse reported that the Township of Upper St Clair has engaged Ruthann Omer, President of Gateway Engineers, to do initial site planning for the land on the north side of Boyce Road (between Boyce Middle School and Route 19). This decision suggests that the the township has decided unofficially to support rezoning of the property to allow commercial development. It is also recognition that this property presents complex traffic problems that the township must get right. The engineering work done by Ruthann and Gateway will help the Thomas family create a rezoning application and development plan that the township would be very likely to approve. This process will take some time - perhaps another year.

The current plan is a mix of office park and high-end small businesses, for example, something along the lines of Pinebridge Commons, Summerfield Commons, or parts of Sewickley. Example businesses might be boutiques, antique shops, restaurants, or Starbucks. There might be a small, neighborhood pharmacy, but not a large pharmacy such as CVS or Walgreens. Development will probably proceed in 2-3 stages, with commercial development a priority in stage 1. Assisted living remains a possibility, but not a priority for the early development phases. The buildings would be 2-3 stories tall. The property would most likely be accessed via Boyce School Road, and there would probably be a traffic light at Boyce School Road.

Southeast Corner of Thorntree Drive and Boyce Road:
The current plan for the Thorntree / Boyce / Washington Road corner (where the little house is) is to build a large house that would serve as offices for the Thomas family's real estate and construction businesses. The house would probably be similar to a high-end 'spec' house, to show the quality of the Thomas family's work. It would have a large parking lot. The rest of the property would remain green, perhaps left in its current undeveloped state, or perhaps developed as a playground with neighborhood assistance.

Other Development:
Plans for the property near the top of the hill on Thorntree Drive are taking shape. At the top of Thorntree there is a 'stub' of a road that leads to undeveloped property. The Thomases are currently considering extending it to create a cul-de-sac with about 4 houses in the $400-600K price range. The property along Washington Road (Rt 19) would remain green space.

Plans to develop property along the ridge between Pinetree and Hollowtree appear to be on hold. The current estimate is 5-7 years.

The property that was cleared along the south side of Turnberry is being landscaped to improve its appearance.

 

Monthly Update
November 20, 2009

Early this year, when the Thomas Family announced their plans to develop their properties near the intersection of Boyce Road and Washington Road (Route 19), they said that they were entering a 'fast track' process with the township to rezone the property from residential to Special Business (SB) or Neighborhood Commercial (C1). They expected that the rezoning might be completed by December 2009.

Nothing about the process has been fast. The traffic study took longer than expected. The township took longer than expected to form its Focus Group. The Focus Group has met just once. The traffic problems along Boyce Road are serious and complex. So far, neither the township nor the Thomas Family have proposed a plan to address them.

Although the process is going slowly, it is going forward. If you have an opinion about this issue, please remember that your opinion has no effect unless you tell it to the township. Please do it right now. See the contact information below.

 

Focus Group Report
October, 12, 2009

The Thomas family owns two plots of land at the intersection of Boyce Road and Washington Road / Route 19. Both plots are zoned residential. The developers are seeking to rezone the property on the north side of Boyce for office or retail development, because overhead power lines make a residential development problematic. The developers have suggested that a pharmacy (e.g., Walgreens), a bank, or a medium-sized grocery store (e.g., Trader Joe's) might be part of the development, with offices behind. Assisted living might also be a possibility, but apparently is not being considered seriously at this time.

The Township has set up a focus group to study the feasibility of various types of development at the corner of Boyce Rd and Washington Road / Route 19. The first meeting was held recently (October 9, 2009). This is a brief summary of the discussions.

A traffic study has been done. The report is here on the website for you to read. Traffic counts were obtained on Wednesday, April 29, from 7:00-9:00 am and 4:00-6:00 pm. The traffic engineer doesn't know what might be built, so the study considers five scenarios: purely commercial development, purely residential development, and a mixture of both. The study concludes that significant additional residential or commmercial development is sustainable without requiring major changes to Washington Road / Rt 19; Boyce Road would require two additional turn lanes, longer queuing lanes, and a traffic light near Fairgreen Drive / Boyce School Road.

The focus group discussed the report at the meeting, and the fact that the existing volume of traffic plus any extra is a problem. There was some concern that the traffic study may understate the actual traffic, or how much additional traffic will be generated by the residential development planned on property behind Boyce Middle School. The possibility of 'cut through' traffic through the neighborhood was acknowledged.

The township says that it wants to make sure that anything that might be built there is right for the area. It is aware that whatever is built there will be there for a very long time and wants to get it right. However, the township is also receptive to the possibility of additional tax revenues.

The focus group will not be responsible for any rezoning or planning permissions; it is purely a discussion group. Changes to the current zoning and any planning decisions will be dealt with by the appropriate township departments.

If you have any views about this please contact me and I will make them known to the members of the focus group. If and when this reaches a rezoning/ planning stage we will post dates and times of the meetings on this website.

       - Judith Browne
         President, Deerfield Manor Homeowners Association

 

Focus Group Announced
October 2, 2009

The township has formed a focus group to discuss the changes which may be made to the Boyce Rd/ Route 19 corner opposite to Deerfield. The homeowners association has been given a place in the group. DMHA President Judith Browne will attend the first meeting Friday, October 9. That is all we know at the moment but Judith will keep the neighbourhood up to date via the website as more becomes known. If you have any comments please contact Judith by email at 'president at deerfieldmanor dot com'.

 

Rezoning Effort Announced
February, 2009

The Thomas family and the Township of Upper St Clair have begun a 'fast track' rezoning process to change property at the entrance to Deerfield Manor from residential to commercial. If they are successful, the rezoning could be completed by the end of December.

The Homeowners Association wants to hear your opinion. Please contact your street representative or  President of the Homeowners Association, to let us know what you think about this proposed change.

 

 

Map of Proprety Affected

 

The Homeowners Association Viewpoint
Updated November, 2009

The Homeowners Association's approach to the proposed development near the intersection of Boyce Road and Washington Road (Rt 19) is guided by the following three principles.

  • The Thomas Family have the right to develop their properties.
  • Our mission is to protect the quality of life in the Deerfield Manor neighborhood, and in Upper St Clair as a whole.
  • Upper St Clair's image as "clean and green along 19" is part of its distinctive character, and must be protected.

The Homeowners Association is concerned about the traffic consequences of new development along the north side of Bocye Road between Boyce Middle School and Washington Road (Route 19). This section of road is badly congested at some times of the day; the traffic study rates it 'E' on a scale of 'A' to 'F'. The long queues of traffic that now form on Boyce Road make it difficult, and occasionally hazardous, to enter and exit the neighborhood at Thorntree. Some development scenarios would require adding two more turning lanes on Boyce Road, creating a superhighway feel at the main entrance to the neighborhood. There is a risk of increased 'cut-through' traffic along Millwood, Redfern, Pinetree, and Circle as people seek a shortcut from Boyce Road to Washington Road (Route 19) during peak congestion.

The Homeowners Association is also concerned about how the land between Washington Road (Route 19), Boyce Road, and Thorntree Drive (where the little house now stands) can be developed without harming the neighborhood. It is impossible to enter and leave that parcel from Boyce Road or Washington Road (Route 19), so the traffic entering and leaving any new development will do so from Thorntree Drive. The intersection at Boyce Road and Thorntree Drive is already difficult. It is likely to become more difficult, and there is a risk of 'cut through' traffic along Thorntree, Pinetree, and Circle.

The traffic problems are very significant. Neither the township nor the Thomas Family have offered a plan for addressing them.

The Homeowners Association would prefer development consistent with the current residential status of the properties on both sides of Boyce Road. Single-family residences, condominiums, apartments, and assisted living would all generate light traffic.

The Homeowners Association would accept offices similar to Summerfield Commons. However, the Special Busines (SB) zoning that allows Summerfield Commons also allows pharmacies (e.g., CVS, Walgreens) and other forms of light commercial development (e.g., Trader Joe's). The Thomas family has expressed interest in 'higher traffic' SB businesses, whereas the Homeowners Association would prefer 'lower traffic SB businesses, such as in Summerfield Commons.

In addition to traffic, the Homeowners Association is also concerned about how the proposed development will affect the look and feel of this part of Upper St Clair. The intersection of Boyce Road and Washington Road is the sourthern gateway to Upper St Clair. It is important to the town's image that this intersection not look like an extension of Peters Township. We seek development that is consistent with the town's "clean and green along 19" image, and that maintains Boyce Road as a green corridor along the town's southern edge.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What change is proposed?
The Thomas family seek to change the zoning of two pieces of property at the corner of Boyce Rd. and Rt 19 from R1 (single family residential) to SB (special business).

What is SB zoning?
Special Business (SB) zoning permits professional offices such as Summerfield Commons. It also permits banks, day care centers, pharmacies, satellite hospital services, private helipads, and other uses.

What type of development is planned?
The Thomas family has expressed interest in professional offices, a bank, a pharmacy (e.g., CVS or Walgreens), a Starbucks, and several other possibilities, however, any business permitted by SB zoning is a possibility. What gets built is a business decision, constrained only by any conditions imposed by the township.

Is rezoning likely?
This change is consistent with the township's Comprehensive Plan, and the township could use the additional tax revenue, thus the township is receptive to the proposed change. The township is beginning to work with the Thomas family to help create a strong proposal. However, it is not a foregone conclusion that the property will be rezoned, or that it will be rezoned to SB. If the property is rezoned, the township could set conditions on what is developed, for example to reduce traffic.

Are there alternative zoning classifications?
Yes. For example, the property could be rezoned R2, R3, R4, or R5 (multi-family housing); for example, Friendship Village is zoned R4, and condominiums are zoned R5. It could also be rezoned C1 (neighborhood commercial), although that currently seems less likely.

Isn't the traffic bad enough?
The township recognizes that the intersection is congested at certain times of the day. The township commissioned a traffic study, which was paid for by the Thomas family. Boyce Road would be widened to accommodate the additional traffic. The township's Comprehensive Plan includes plans to widen Boyce Road as far as Boyce Middle School, and around the intersections with Morton Road and Millwood Road. An additional traffic light probably would be required, probably near where Boyce School Road and Fairgreen intersect Boyce Road, to permit access to businesses on the parcel adjacent to Boyce Middle School.

Won't this increase traffic cutting through the neighborhood?
It might.

Is there concern about development adjacent to Boyce Middle School?
The township has not addressed this issue. The Thomas family have mentioned that having commercial businesses near the school might be convenient for students after school.

What is the Homeowners Association doing about this?
The Homeowners Association has met twice with Jessie Thomas, who represents the Thomas family. We will continue to meet with him. The township has included the Homeowners Association on a Focus Group that was formed to provide feedback about this proposed development and several other developments in Upper St Clair. As of November, 2009, the committee has met just once. The Homeowners Association is also beginning to monitor township meetings more closely.

How can I make my opinion known?
Contact township administrators and elected officials:

Scott Brilhart, Director of Community Development
1820 McLaughlin Run Road
Upper St. Clair, PA 15241
Telephone: 412-831-9000, x 501
Email: brilhart@twpusc.org.
and
Matthew Serakowski, Township Manager
1820 McLaughlin Run Road
Upper St. Clair, PA 15241
Telephone: 412-831-9000, x 216
Email: mserakowski@twpusc.org
and
Your Township Commissioners (they work for you)