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Board reverses itself, opposes new subdivision

December 06, 1999|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Glen Afton Farms, 103 acres of prime farmland on Harbaugh Church Road, will remain zoned for agriculture after a Washington Township Supervisor reversed his vote on rezoning the tract Monday night.

Supervisor Richard Eigenbrode, who voted with board colleagues John Beck and Paul Benchoff to rezone the land in November - a move that paved the way for the construction of up to 200 homes, changed his mind Monday when the ordinance came up for a final vote. Supervisors James Kirby and Quinter Baumgardner have opposed the rezoning from the beginning.

Eigenbrode's vote drew applause and cheers from a crowd of nearly 100 township residents who had launched an organized campaign against the rezoning with petitions, letters to the board and flyers to the public. "Our children will thank you for this, Dick," one woman yelled to Eigenbrode as she left the meeting room with the other residents.

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Eigenbrode, acting on the advice of Township Attorney John Lisko, declined to say why he changed his mind. He said his decision was very difficult. Eigenbrode is a farmer.

The property is owned by Susan Elgin of Hagerstown. Attorney Donald L. Kornfield, Elgin's lawyer, sat through the meeting. When asked later if there would be an appeal, he said, "We have to talk."

Jerry Zeigler, township zoning enforcement officer, said the supervisors have the final say in rezoning issues. An appeal, if there is one, would have to be filed in Common Pleas Court, he said.

Had the rezoning been approved, Elgin could have built up to 200 single-family homes on lots as small as 10,000 square feet. Public water and sewer lines are about 1,000 feet away, Zeigler said.

Afton Farm, as the Elgin property is called, abuts other farmland and surrounds the historic church for which Harbaugh Church Road is named. Adjacent to the church is an active cemetery dating to the early 19th century. It holds the graves of veterans from the Civil War through Vietnam.

The Waynesboro Historical Society bought the church in 1983 and spent about $100,000 to restore it, a society member told the supervisors. He said the society feared the church property and cemetery could be vandalized with so many people moving to the neighborhood.

Other speakers worried about the loss of farmland, which they said was quickly disappearing in the township.

Dixie Myers, a leader of the anti-rezoning effort, reminded the supervisors of the power they have to "change the future of our township."

"You represent us," Myers told them. "We elected you because we trusted you."

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