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Depot land OK'd for use by civilians

March 31, 1998|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The U.S. Army has determined there are no major obstacles to turning over about 1,450 acres of Letterkenny Army Depot for civilian use.

"There are contingencies, of course. There will probably be use restriction covenants on the deed," depot spokesman Alan Loessy said Tuesday.

Built in the early days of World War II, Letterkenny has polluted the soil and groundwater with solvents and other chemicals used in industrial processes over the decades.

The environmental assessment found no significant impact on the reuse of the land that will eventually be deeded over to the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority, according to a Department of the Army memorandum sent to the depot.

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The memorandum said the Army's preferred alternative is "encumbered disposal of the property," which Loessy said could speed the turnover of the land because guidelines for use of the parcels would be spelled out clearly to potential buyers.

The memorandum said restrictions could be based on historical significance of a site, problems created by asbestos or lead-based paint, easements and rights-of-way, groundwater use, utilities and wetlands.

John Van Horn, program manager for the industrial development authority, said there are no serious asbestos problems in the depot buildings.

A public meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Building 500 auditorium to discuss the impending transfer of 234 acres of depot land to the authority.

The proposal for the Phase I transfer will be reviewed at the meeting, including measures to prevent exposure to groundwater contamination on those parcels.

Tuesday began a 30-day comment period on the Army's plans and the environmental assessment.

Loessy said the Army is trying to speed up the transfer of all 1,450 acres, which must take place by July 2001.

In another move aimed at speeding development of the land, the Greene Township Supervisors in February approved zoning of depot property in the township. The flexible zoning plan would allow a mix of highway commercial, light industrial and heavy industrial development.

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