After more than 10 years of discussion and planning, the Riverview Business Center in Shirley Township is home to a forest of new trees.
The forestry line, or rather a riparian buffer, has reached completion after Huntingdon County Business and Industry (HCBI), the Huntingdon County Conservation District and Keller Engineers planted the final tree in the business park this week.
The trees, an assortment of native species, were planted in the business center to enhance storm water control and aesthetics. The riparian buffer will play a factor in storm water plans for new construction. Since the buffer was completed, the rate control requirements for new construction will only need to be met on developed lots and can now be met using underground detention pipe.
The buffer will also make the Riverview Business Park a more attractive area, allowing additional vegetation to grow, protecting the environment and making land development more cost-effective within the park.
“This was a fantastic partnership,” said HCBI director Robert Reitman. “It allowed each partner to do what we were good at and it made the project a lightweight effort overall.”
Reitman said the buffer’s biggest effect on the park’s land and surrounding properties is that it will mitigate future storm water retention.
“Future builders can get credit for a forested riparian buffer on a permit application and less of the remaining land will be used for storm water retention as a result,” he said.
Riparian buffers are areas of forest vegetation along streams, lakes, rivers and reservoirs that are left untouched to protect water quality and to separate development areas from surface waters.
“A property is altered when a building is placed or built on it,” said Reitman. “Drainage from the roof and around the building changes and affects drainage on the property. The amount of water retained is larger. This buffer will lessen the amount of storm water retention that is on the property. Future entrepreneurs won’t have to take up any more of the existing land to add a retention pond and more of the remaining land can be used.”
Reitman said the buffer will provide significant water filtration and slow water entry into the stream and help improve water quality, decrease erosion and improve volume retention.
The buffer was funded through a state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) grant through the Western PA Conservancy. Neighboring businesses to the park, Bonney Forge and IFC Services, also partnered to allow their stream borders to become a part of the buffer. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, DCNR and Keller Engineers provided additional aid and technical and surveying assistance for the overall project.
“This buffer does increase the value of those lots, and their value has continued to climb,” said Reitman, noting he’s hopeful now that with the new buffer and stormwater retention efforts the lots within the park will see entrepreneur interest. “As business development continues to occur, I hope there will be fewer spaces left in the park. I believe we will see a demand increase for these lots.”
Reitman said he’s pleased with the outcome of the project.
“Everyone really came together to make this effort happen,” he said. “It is not only a benefit to the surrounding environment, but to the community. It will also make the park a much nicer place.”