Armstrong County News
Armstrong County Planning Commission Reviews Report PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Ceschini   
Thursday, 01 March 2018 14:13


Last year saw the creation of 175 new land parcels in Armstrong County, according to a report reviewed by the Armstrong County Planning Commission.

Plans submitted in 33 municipalities to the Planning Commission for review increased by 12 from the previous year. The plans – 108 in total – consisted of a combination of subdivision and land development.

“It’s encouraging to see an uptick in land development activity – and there is every indication that it will continue through 2018,” said Harry Breski, chairman of the planning commission.

Armstrong County adopted its first subdivision and land development ordinance (SALDO) in 1958. All municipalities in Armstrong County, with the exception of Apollo Borough, are subject to this ordinance.  Apollo Borough adopted its own SALDO in 1999.

County SALDO requires subdivision approval prior to selling or conveying a portion of land.

SALDO also requires a land development plan when improvements of one lot or two or more contiguous parcels of land is proposed to involve – either initially or over time – a group of two or more residential or nonresidential buildings. This requirement also extends to instances involving a single nonresidential building – regardless of the number of occupants.

Adherence to SALDO requirements helps create accurate and recorded descriptions of land sold, protects the value of property and increases the marketability of land parcels within the county. It is also a way to make sure that subdivisions and land development do not pose any threats to public health and safety.

More information on SALDO can be found in the Citizen’s Guide to Subdivision and Land Development on the Armstrong County website under Planning and Development, via the Plans/Document link. Additional questions may be directed to the Department of Planning and Development at 724-548-3223.

Official Designation Given to Middle Allegheny River Water Trail PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Ceschini   
Wednesday, 28 February 2018 09:46


A section of the Allegheny River that winds through Armstrong County has received its official designation as the Middle Allegheny River Water Trail.

The designation was approved by the Pennsylvania Water Trails Partnership of the National Parks Service (NPS), the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC).

The Middle Allegheny River Water Trail is the newest Pennsylvania water trail, according to DCNR’s Bureau of Recreation and Conservation.

Armstrong County received notification of the designation in early February 2018.

The designation positions Armstrong County for increased opportunities, according to Lynda J. Pozzuto, president of the Armstrong County Tourist Bureau’s Board of Directors.

“This is huge for Armstrong County,” Pozzuto said. “This opens the doors for national promotion and visibility as well as opportunities for funding water trail projects.”

Pozzuto noted that it has the potential to increase tourism. This, she said, can bring a positive economic impact to the county in addition to possible national recognition of special events that highlight the trail.

“The Middle Allegheny Water Trail will be included in an online database of trails which lists water trail description, maps, photographs and links to other websites like the Armstrong County Tourist Bureau,” she said.

Copies of the map, developed by the Armstrong County Tourist Bureau with assistance from the Armstrong County Department of Planning and Development, highlight points of interest along this 61-mile stretch of the Allegheny River.

Its main route begins at the water trail’s southern terminus at Freeport Riverfront Park and continues all the way to its northern terminus at Emlenton Launch, in Clarion County.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunities this will bring to Armstrong County,” Pozzuto said. “We are excited to show off the beautiful Allegheny River, and Armstrong County!”

Middle Allegheny River Water Trail Partners include Armstrong and Clarion counties; Baker Family Charitable Fund (through the Community Foundation); Allegheny Township, Westmoreland County; Cowanshannock Creek Watershed Association; East Brady Area Development; Ford City Borough; Freeport Borough; and West Kittanning Borough.

Armstrong UCC Building Permit Activity Review PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Ceschini   
Tuesday, 30 January 2018 14:41


Residential construction, including the building of manufactured homes, rose by one percent in 2017 from the previous year among participating municipalities within the Armstrong Uniform Construction Code (UCC) Group.

That is according to a report reviewed by UCC Group representatives during their January meeting in Kittanning.

The Armstrong UCC Group formed in 2004, several years after The Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code (UCC), Act 45 of 1999, became law. The purpose of UCC is to provide uniform standards for new construction and renovations. More than 90 percent of Pennsylvania's 2,562 municipalities have elected to administer and enforce the UCC locally using their own employees or via certified third party agencies (private code enforcement agencies) that they have retained.

Of the 45 municipalities in Armstrong County, 34 have elected to jointly administer the UCC through participation in the Armstrong County UCC Group.  The Group currently contracts with Bureau Veritas to provide third party inspection services for a set fee schedule.

Robert Conklin, Armstrong UCC Group vice-chairman and Kittanning Township supervisor, says municipalities belonging to the UCC Group have the advantage of obtaining a better rate when dealing with code enforcement agencies.

“Being part of a bigger group gives you more power when it comes to the bargaining table,” says Conklin. And, he adds, that since all municipalities are required to have an appeals board, being part of the UCC Group provides a larger pool from which to select appeals board members.

According to the Armstrong UCC 2017 report, last year saw a 13.9 percent increase from the previous year in overall permits issued among the Group’s participating municipalities – with Manor and East Franklin townships issuing the most permits. In addition to new residential construction and manufactured homes, permits were issued under categories that include new commercial construction, additions, renovations, demolitions, and others such as utilities, signs, pools and decks.

Although permit application numbers were up, Bureau Veritas Unit Manager Grant Kanish says 2017 wasn’t a big year for new commercial construction. However, some of the commercial projects of note included the construction of a grandstand at the Armstrong Junior-Senior High School in Manor Township and the construction of a new Dollar General store in Elderton Borough.

Kanish also has noted that there has been an increase in value of new homes being built over the last few years attributed to the construction of larger wood-framed or stick-built homes.

When it comes to the permit process, Kanish suggests that business owners and residents who are planning to build, demolish, or alter a structure should first contact their borough or township to see if there are zoning or sewage requirements.

“It all starts with the municipality,” says Kanish.

County Takes Next Step in Blight Prevention PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Ceschini   
Monday, 29 January 2018 10:40


In a continued effort to halt the spread of blighted properties throughout Armstrong County, the Board of Commissioners approved a contract in January of 2018 with Christopher Gulotta, of The Gulotta Group, for consulting services in the development of a land bank.

A land bank is a governmental body that promotes redevelopment by converting abandoned, vacant and tax delinquent properties into productive use with a goal toward stabilizing and revitalizing communities.

The creation of a land bank was among the recommendations included within the Armstrong County Blight Task Force Report, which was issued in 2017.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Pat Fabian said this is an important step in tackling property blight.

“The problems associated with chronically deteriorated and abandoned properties were among the issues raised during our town hall meetings,” Fabian said. “It’s important to be proactive in dealing with these problems before they get worse, and the development of a land bank is one of the ways to do that.”

The process of developing a land bank is expected to take at least eight or nine months and will involve a number of stakeholder meetings and discussion with local and county officials.
Gulotta will also hold a presentation in the Kittanning area in March of 2018 for municipal officials and their representatives to discuss multiple local ordinances and procedures that are effective in tackling issues related to blight.

Christopher Gulotta, Principal of The Gulotta Group from Easton, Pa., provides technical assistance in the areas of affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization and economic development. He served as the executive director of the Redevelopment and Housing Authorities of Cumberland County for 30 years before forming The Gulotta Group in 2010. Since then, Gulotta has worked with at least four counties – including Westmoreland – to form land banks.

Services provided by The Gulotta Group are being paid for with funding from a DCED grant, which was awarded to Armstrong County for the purpose of assisting local municipalities in blight remediation efforts.

Bridge Replacement PDF Print E-mail
Written by County Systems Administrator   
Thursday, 16 November 2017 13:52


After a five-month closure, motorists are once again free to drive across Cherry Run Hill Bridge in Plumcreek Township now that the bridge replacement project has wrapped up.

The bridge, which crosses Cherry Run Hill Road in the southwest corner of Plumcreek Township, was closed to traffic from May 8, 2017 to October 12, 2017. Traffic during the closure was detoured along Smith, Girty and Ridge roads.

Robert Dale Rearick, chairman of the Plumcreek Township Board of Supervisors, noted the structurally deficient condition of the bridge necessitated the replacement project.

“The bridge itself was really deteriorated. It was in sad shape –  and narrow,” he said, adding that the replacement project included the construction of a double box culvert.

“Now the road is wider and the bridge looks a lot better,” he said.

The contract was awarded to Curry & Kepple, Inc., of New Alexandria, Pa., for the bid amount of $261,779.

The project was paid for through a combination of funding streams that included a grant through the Dirt and Gravel Road Program; Act 13 funds provided by the Armstrong County Commissioners for at-risk and deteriorated bridges; and a local share from Plumcreek township.

In a letter to the county, Rearick expressed appreciation on behalf of the Board of Supervisors for help in funding the project:

“The Plumcreek Township Board of Supervisors would like to thank the Armstrong County Board of Commissioners and the Armstrong County Planning and Development for their contribution to the funding of the Cherry Run Hill Bridge Replacement Project,” Rearick said. “Without your help, this project would not have been possible.”

New Play Equipment PDF Print E-mail
Written by County Systems Administrator   
Thursday, 09 November 2017 14:55


Rural Valley Borough recently completed the installation of new playground equipment at the Shannock Valley Park.  The new equipment features a play apparatus that includes climbing structures, slides and a four-bay swing set. As part of the project, two benches, a covered picnic table and a new sidewalk have been installed within the playground vicinity.  

Lillian Bartosiewicz, secretary and treasurer of both Rural Valley Borough and the Shannock Valley Recreation Committee, said the project increased the overall play area. She also noted that the previous equipment didn’t include swings.

“it’s a very nice looking playground and it seems to be getting a lot of use,” Bartosiewicz said.

Rick Wranich, president of the Shannock Valley Recreation Committee, said the intent of the project was to upgrade the west end playground area and add a shade table to the east end play area.

“By doing this we are able to supply a safe and family-friendly space to enjoy the park,” Wranich said. “With the upgrade to the west end playground area, we have enhanced the amenities of the pavilion area.”

The hope, he said, is that continued growth of the park will generate some additional pavilion rentals, which in turn will help with the committee’s annual budget.

The project was funded by a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Grant, and with contributions from Rural Valley Borough, the Shannock Valley Recreation Committee, the Rural Valley Lions Club and volunteers. The grant amount was $35,000.00.  Match was made up of cash and in-kind services.         

“The most rewarding part of this project was watching the community come together to make this project a success,” Wranich said. “Special thanks to our Project Manager Sally Conklin of the Armstrong County Department of Planning and Development, Rural Valley Borough Council, Rural Valley Lions Club and the many skilled volunteers from the community. A special thanks to the members of The Shannock Valley Recreation Committee and their continued support in serving our community.”

Still to be completed are improvements to an ADA parking space and the placement of a sign. That final portion of the project is expected to wrap up by no later than spring of 2018.

New Play Equipment

Kittanning Borough Seeks Facade Grant PDF Print E-mail
Written by County Systems Administrator   
Thursday, 02 November 2017 14:21


Kittanning Borough has applied for a Keystone Communities Façade Grant for up to $50,000 for improvements to the exteriors of eligible buildings in the central business district of Kittanning Borough.

If awarded, the money will help give a facelift to commercial buildings in the focus area. The maximum amount per building would be $5,000 and must be matched dollar for dollar by the business owner/building owner.

Kittanning Borough Council President Kim Fox sees the potential for attracting new businesses to the downtown area if grant funding comes through.

“This grant would be a huge benefit to the borough, allowing businesses to double the dollar amount of improvements to their storefronts,” Fox said.  “I have been in other communities that have taken advantage of this grant and it has made a big impact on their downtown business district.  This could also increase interest to new businesses considering our town.”

Eligible projects include: storefront façade; exterior restoration/painting; architectural elements and additions; awnings; exterior lighting; lighting signage; and signs.

If funded, the borough will hold a grant round during which time all interested parties can submit applications to be reviewed by a design committee. If awarded, funds are expected to become available sometime in the summer of 2018.

Those interested are asked to contact Sally Conklin, Program Manager with the Department of Planning and Development, at 724-548-3223 or by email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Reconstruction of Campbell and Sampson streets PDF Print E-mail
Written by County Systems Administrator   
Tuesday, 24 October 2017 08:14


A long-anticipated reconstruction project on Campbell and Sampson streets recently got underway in Kittanning Borough and is expected to wrap up near the end of the month.

The bulk of the reconstruction project – which includes the replacement of a number of inlets, the installation of a new inlet and the replacement of a faulty storm pipe that had been creating erosion problems – is already complete. All that remains before the project finishes up is sealing the new layer of asphalt on the reconstructed street surfaces.

The project had been initially put on hold because of delays in lining up funding. Kittanning Borough Council President Kim Fox is grateful that the project is finally near completion.

“I’d like to thank the residents of Kittanning for their patience,” Fox said. “It’s been a long time coming, but the reconstruction of these streets has made it all worthwhile – providing safer, smoother access to the surrounding neighborhood and downtown area.”

A. Folino Construction of Oakmont, was awarded the contract by the Armstrong County Board of Commissioners to complete the reconstruction of both streets for the bid amount of $91,740.96.

The project was funded with Kittanning Borough's 2014 and 2015 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Funds.

Freeport Multimodal Street Project PDF Print E-mail
Written by County Systems Administrator   
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 15:01


Freeport Borough street improvements to provide better trail access

Freeport Borough kicked off its Multimodal street improvement project in its Laneville neighborhood in October to provide better access to the two existing trailhead parking areas for the Butler-Freeport Community Trail.

According to Freeport Borough Council President Richard Hastings, the project will bring positive benefits to not just Freeport itself, but also to Armstrong County as a whole.

"We are the southern gateway to the county, and what better way of reflecting that than upgrading the community we live in," Hastings said. "Freeport is a hub for bike and water trails. The new signage to help bring people into town will only signify what we already know: that we are a jewel along the Allegheny and [that] we are a great place to have a business and raise a family."

He added: "Freeport stands to become a launching point for many recreational activities with the multiple trails in the immediate vicinity (Butler-Freeport, Tredway, Rachel Carson, Baker) and with easy access to the river. With people coming into town and frequenting the businesses this will only help to make Freeport stronger and more vital - and with strong communities throughout Armstrong -  the county only will grow and prosper."

Plans and bid specifications were prepared by PennDOT. The Armstrong County Commissioners awarded the contract to A. Folino Construction, Inc., of Oakmont, Pa., to complete the project for the bid amount of $103,582.

Once that project is complete, a separate smaller project will connect trail users to the borough's downtown business district via a "share the road" loop. The approximate 1-mile loop will include signage and markers painted on the roadway to alert motorists of potential bicyclists using the road.

These projects are being paid for through a combination of funding streams that include a Multimodal Transportation Fund grant through the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA); Liquid Fuels funds provided by the Armstrong County Commissioners; and a local share from Freeport Borough.

Freeport borough was among seven municipalities in Armstrong County that received state Multimodal funds with assistance from the office of Sen. Don White (Armstrong/Indiana).

Group at Trail Head

Reviewing Plans

Armstrong County Commissioners Adopt Act 152 PDF Print E-mail
Written by County Systems Administrator   
Thursday, 05 October 2017 14:48


The Armstrong County Board of Commissioners have taken a proactive step in battling blighted and abandoned properties across the county.

During the board’s public meeting Aug. 17, 2017, the three commissioners adopted a resolution under Pennsylvania’s Act 152, which authorizes the recorder of deeds to charge and collect a $15 fee for each deed and mortgage that is recorded. Collected fees will be deposited into a specific fund to be used for the demolition of blighted properties within the county.

The resolution, which took effect on Oct. 1, 2017, follows a recommendation by the Armstrong County Blight Task Force to help establish a designated funding source to address the problem of blight.

“This is a response to concerns raised by a number of municipalities during our Town Hall Meetings last fall,” said Pat Fabian, Chairman of the Armstrong County Board of Commissioners. “We believe this will go a long way toward cleaning up our communities and making the county a more attractive place to move to, and to live in.”

The new increase is expected to bring in approximately $50,000 in annual revenue and must be used exclusively for demolition purposes.

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