By Monica Pryts/Staff Writer
Springfield Township might see more commercial development in the future, but that could happen sooner rather than later if the water supply issue gets sorted out.
"The key to that is funding," said Barbara Brown, township administrator and zoning officer.
Township officials in the fall learned from Buhl Community Water Company, Springfield's water provider, that the system had reached capacity and was unable to take any new customers.
The township had been hoping to work out an agreement that involved Grove City providing water to Springfield by way of Pine Township, a project that meant building new water lines in the borough.
Pine officials were on board but borough council members in mid-June decided to pass on Springfield's request - for now - saying they wouldn't want to come up short on its own water reserve in an emergency.
"We'd have to do something here in the township," Brown said.
While the supply issue itself is Buhl Community Water's, since the company is the provider, the township can look into other options to provide assistance and has applied for funding through PennWorks, she said.
PennWorks is a grant program that provides money for municipal water and sewer projects through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
The township's engineer, Kenneth Howard of Bankson Engineers Inc., Cheswick, Pa., is researching a number of options that could help bolster the water supply, a project that is estimated to cost just under $1 million, Brown said.
If the township is approved for the PennWorks grant, they would have to provide 25 percent in matching funds, but they can't use taxpayer money because it's a limited service area.
The matching funds could come from new developer fees and contributions, but township officials aren't sure at this time who those developers might be.
"Only the users could for pay it," she said of the matching funds.
Franklin Land Development owns property on state Route 208 just west of Grove City Premium Outlets next to Wendy's and Elephant and Castle, and the company, which is working with another outfit called JBCD Developers, has submitted preliminary plans for a proposed subdivision on that site.
Township officials know very little about the plans, which potentially include a restaurant, hotel and retail buildings, Brown said, adding she doesn't know which establishments - essentially the users who would need water service - could be part of the development.
One of several large signs on that property says the land is available for development and includes utilities. Brown said that means either the owner worked out a deal with Buhl Community Water to supply water if and when it is needed, or the developer has figured out some other way to provide water service.
Just up the road is more land ready and waiting for more development. Sunnyland Land Corp., which owns the property where Hampton Inn and Suites and Holiday Inn Express sit, recently submitted subdivision plans to build a restaurant and hotel on the remaining undeveloped land, Brown said.
"We haven't seen the exact plans," she said of how it's in the early stages.
The only active construction in the township is Wendell August Forge's new facility on Route 208, which is expected to host a grand opening in the fall, she said.
The township is also planning for upgrades to its sewer system, which could cost just over $1 million. That was also part of the PennWorks application and requires the same 25 percent match covered the same way - by new users.
Township supervisors in June raised sewer rates by about $6 a month for single-family homes and by about $15 a month per unit for non-residential customers.
It was the first time since 1994 supervisors raised sewer rates, citing the much-needed upgrades that will keep the system running effectively.
Brown said it could be several more months before the township finds out if the PennWorks application has been approved.
Published Aug. 7, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.