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Worker housing OK'd

February 08, 2000|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A dozen West Virginians recruited by a Thurmont, Md., company to work in its manufacturing plant will be able to live in an old Victorian house in Blue Ridge Summit following a 4-1 vote Monday by the Washington Township Supervisors.

Monday's vote paves the way for Structure Systems Inc. to buy the three-story frame house at 13526 Monterey Lane from Claude H. and Gloria G. Wickers and convert it to a boarding house for 12 of its workers.

Michael Hardman, operations manager for Structure Systems, said last month that his company has had to look out of state, mainly in high-unemployment counties in rural West Virginia, to find employees to work in the plant. Jobless rates in the Tri-State area are low and it is hard to find qualified workers in the area, Hardman has said. The need for more workers is prompted by growth in the company's business, he said.

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The company, which makes structural components for the building industry, has seen its work force grow from 70 four years ago to more than 300 today, he said.

He told the Washington Township Supervisors Monday that his company has 52 out-of-state workers on its payroll.

Many are housed in Thurmont-area motels and the company wants them billeted in homes such as the one in Blue Ridge Summit to save money. Hardman said Structure Systems is looking for other large houses to convert to rooming houses in such nearby Maryland communities in Detour, Taneytown and Fort Ritchie.

The West Virginia workers who will live in the Blue Ridge Summit house will work four days a week on the night shift from 3:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Steve Patterson, a local attorney who lives several blocks from the house, said in a letter to the supervisors the project failed to meet the zoning ordinance's requirement of compatibility.

Township Solicitor John Lisko disagreed.

The supervisors approved Structure Systems' request with stipulations. They include limiting the number of workers in the house to 12 plus a full-time company employee who will manage the house. Also, only company employees can live in the house and all must pay rent. There can be no more than six tenant rooms and the project must obtain a Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry permit.

Supervisor John Kirby cast the dissenting vote.

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