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Great Lakes Article:

Discovery of wetland areas alters Clarion housing plans
By Heather Leskanic
The Derrick and News Herald

CLARION - The discovery of several wetland areas at the site of a proposed new student housing complex in Clarion Township has forced developers to adjust their plans.

But a top official says the changes will actually improve the overall project that has the potential to provide housing to more than 600 Clarion University students.

Kevin Abbott, vice president of National Development of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh, told members of the Clarion County Planning Commission this week that engineers are working closely with the DEP and Army Corps of Engineers.

The company received county approval in May for the project, which has been estimated at $25 to $30 million.

Abbott said engineers have decided to reposition the proposed Diane L. Reinhard Villages complex - which features four upscale, village-type units - closer to Magnolia Boulevard and avoid the wetlands altogether.

"We will preserve and enhance the wetlands,'' he said.

He said the complex will still offer 656 beds, but there will be a total of 27 buildings instead of 29.

"We don't think they're significant" changes, said Abbott.

Officials plan to proceed with work on the units that have not been affected by the changes.

Abbott said engineers are required to submit revisions for the project's erosion and sedimentation plan to the DEP.

In addition to the three wetland areas, there is a small stream on the property that was reported by the Army Corps of Engineers, he said.

Abbott said the stream is a creation of some of the earlier work that was done on the property that was formerly known as Magnolia Estates off Route 66.

The changes will actually benefit the community, the development, and "clearly the neighbors within the area,'' he said.

It is also an improvement from a safety and security standpoint, he said.

The university's biology department is now getting involved, Abbott added.

"We're making it a study area now,'' he said.

The developmental impact on the property will be reduced by about eight to 10 acres, according to Abbott.

University officials have said the plan aims to keep the local university competitive with the needs of today's college students.

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