Moon Township, Pennsylvania
With plenty of green space and growth on the horizon
There are always advantages to small-town living. For many, the appeal lies in knowing your neighbor and having the space to enjoy outdoor recreational activities. Others gravitate to the peace and quiet afforded by small-town living. For the residents of Moon Township, the benefits are clearly evident and these advantages are amplified in the modern amenities that the township has in spades.
Situated along the Ohio River and 12 miles northwest of the Pittsburgh Metro Area, Moon Township is an idyllic place to call home. According to the most recent census in 2020, there are approximately 27,000 residents in the township.
Moon Township was formed in 1788 and is one of the first townships formed in Allegheny County. In 1942, the federal government built the Greater Pittsburgh Airport in Moon. It was used as a military installation during World War II. Through the years the airport has expanded into the modern-day Pittsburgh International Airport.
Moon Township is a community with vast open space for its residents to enjoy. The township is recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a ‘Tree City USA” community for its dedication to planting and maintaining trees.
“We are blessed to have five parklets and three parks. All of our park areas have trails that connect throughout the township, and they also connect to a larger trail system, the Montour trail system is a rail to trail project that connects Pittssburgh to Washington DC,” says Dawn Lane, Moon Township Manager.
Moon Township’s management team works closely with the Allegheny Land Trust and the Hollow Oak Land Trust, which purchases property to extend the trails and create Open Space. Over the next three years, management from the township and agencies will be working towards creating a trail system that will connect our parks and make Conservation Areas accessible to residents and visitors.
As the township is in a prime area for an easy commute to work while providing access to ample green spaces, Moon has a lifestyle offer many Americans want. In turn, this has meant there’s now a boom in property development.
Township management worked with a committee to create a new Zoning District that encourages mixed use development. The new Zoning District is called the Market Place Boulevard TND District. This district has development guidelines for architectural design and materials and design requirements. It also has the flexibility to allow for mixed use, which results in a sustainable community.
“Our largest current construction project in Moon is the Village at Marketplace. This neighborhood is a mixture of single-family attached and detached homes totalling 440 units,” says Scott Brilhart, Assistant Manager and Planning Director of Moon Township. In addition, a 336 apartment development with 10 3-story buildings, a pool, clubhouse, office, fitness center.
The neighborhood is planned as a grid network with interconnected roads and will offer residents a community center and pool.
Also, as part of the master plan, other project developers will erect office developments, retail offerings, an assisted living facility and hotels. The area currently has a restaurant, which will be incorporated into the new developments. While the area has been earmarked for development since the 90s, with developers building big box retail outlets, it somehow didn’t equal investments into residential until recently.
Moon also has several residential plans that are under construction, with estimates of over a thousand units. Brilhart elaborates on the extensive plans for residential homes,
“River Ridge is a townhouse development that the township approved and will consist of 100 units. Victoria Ridge is another development situated on a hilltop and will consist of 40 single-family homes.
Rolling Hills is under construction and will have 80 townhouse units. Elk Ridge will be situated close to River Ridge and will be close to 100 units of townhouses.
Currently, there is a planned residential development in the works which will consist of 280 residential units. These units will be made up of carriage homes, ranch-style housing, and bungalows. Most of these homes are aimed at empty nesters who don’t want to climb stairs. Also, some units will be developed into single-family homes for both larger and smaller families.”
Moon Township is home to Robert Morris University, with new students from across America. It is a private university that enrolls nearly 5,000 students and offers 60 bachelor degree programs and 35 master and doctoral programs. The new housing is well suited for young professionals that choose to make Moon Township their home. In addition, the university has the UPMC Event Center that hosts the RMU Basketball Team, comedians, concerts and sporting events. These events support the local restaurants, hotels and retail establishments.
Also, with young professionals graduating from Robert Morris University, many will want to find apartments to their lifestyles and be close to work, or those that offer space for remote working with mixed development.
The township’s management works closely with Robert Morris University and other local businesses through the Moon Economic Development Committee to collaborate on ways to improve Moon Township. It Is important to have open communication with businesses within the community so that we can benefit from each other’s efforts.
“We want to ensure that the workforce trained by Robert Morris University stays here. Moon Township has many corporate headquarters and businesses in the town,” says Lane.
Moon Township is also home to many corporate headquarters, such as Michael Baker International Civil and Environmental Consultants, Inc., Eaton Corporation, FedEx Ground and Service Link.
Moon Economic Development Committee had to undergo restructuring due to COVID-19, and now representatives from these headquarters are a part of the committee, along with many smaller establishments like local hotel chains. Others who are a part of the committee include developers as well as local businesses at the airport.
Moon Township is a very fast-growing community. Before COVID-19, it was found that 50,000 people would commute into the township to work at corporate offices.
While many could speculate about how this growth boom occurred, the township’s management is confident it is a combination having a quality school system, park amenities, municipal services, and transportation infrastructure.
Having direct access to main roads between the township, airport, and downtown Pittsburgh means that many companies, such as FedEx Ground, have decided that Moon Township’s location is perfect.
Good public school systems for young families, ample space to develop new corporate offices and office parks, and a lifestyle focused on getting outdoors make Moon Township perfect for corporate America.
The township encourages the construction of green building projects through Performance Zoning; some corporate companies in the town have incorporated green technology into their buildings.
“FedEx Ground has built carports out of a large solar panel installation in their car park, which the town is happy to see. There are so many different environmental projects in the town,” says Brilhart.
Moon is blessed with an extensive schooling system. The township is home to numerous daycares and pre-schools, five elementary schools, a high school with a middle school campus, two private high school institutions, and the university. It’s a town where you could do your schooling from the beginning to the job market.
Robert Morris University has a wide array of different educational programs for students up to master’s programs. The relationship between the township and these institutions is close. Without their input, the town wouldn’t have parks and recreational facilities.
The university students volunteer to help out the township by providing programs for the youth and volunteering for other programs, including helping out at another center owned by the township and run by the Felician Sisters, who assist those with the lower income bracket.
Moon Township has its own police department, a 30-man force that operates a dispatch center.
“Many smaller communities have gone with what they’ve dubbed ‘County 911’. But we have our own police dispatch that operates 24/7. The department only takes 40-50% of the budget for public safety and has been operating for around 33 years. This department is second to none,” says Lane.
The police department is well respected in the community. It handles calls for many issues, from serious situations all the way down to dealing with calls relating to raccoons or deer in residents’ backyards, for which the community is thankful.
Regarding public works, the township has a team consisting of 20 people who are responsible for ensuring that roads, parks, and public buildings are in good shape.
“Both departments work incredibly hard. While Moon Township has a small-town feel, there are loads going on. We have an airport, a university, military installations, and, as we mentioned, a lot of commercial developments. And yet, the police and public works care for all our residents. We’re thankful they keep our home a quiet and safe community,” says Brilhart.
The township has no proper hospital but is a part of the Valley Ambulance Service, which many neighboring towns signed up for.
Also, Moon has an active senior citizen program called Senior Connection. Moon is home to several senior homes. Heritage Valley, UPMC, and the Allegheny Health Network help with the senior population.
Regarding priorities in the next three to five years, the township wants to maintain the development of offices and homes, ensuring these office spaces don’t sit vacant and ensuring that transportation and roads to the township are kept in good working order.
Lane concludes, “We need to maintain the services Moon Township provides residents at our current level without ruining the budget and putting financial strain on the residents. As the previous chief of police used to say, we need to adapt and improvise as we move forward.”
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AT A GLANCE
What: An historic township pivoting to meet anticipated growth
Where: Pennsylvania located in the outlying area of Pittsburgh
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Moon Transportation Authority (MTA) plans, designs, and constructs critical transportation infrastructure that facilitates economic activity, increases tax base, and creates jobs in Moon Township. MTA has completed 5 major transportation infrastructure projects in 30 years that generate $9.3 million annually for the local taxing bodies.
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