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200 sign petition opposing houses

November 06, 2000

200 sign petition opposing houses



By SCOTT BUTKIand ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY / Staff Writers


Nearly 200 people signed a petition Sunday opposing a development plan under which 159 housing units would be constructed on property just east of Williamsport, a spokesman for the opposition group said.

About 75 people attended Monday night's Planning Commission meeting to present commission members with the petition, which will continue to grow, said Harry Meyers, spokesman for the opponents.

Planning Commission Chairwoman Paula Lampton thanked the roomful of opponents for attending the meeting, presenting the petition, and giving the commission a "heads-up opportunity to review your concerns."

The petition will be given to the Washington County Commissioners, and petitioners will be notified when the proposed site plan is put on the Planning Commission agenda, said Robert Arch, county director of planning and community development.

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Former Washington County Commissioner R. Lee Downey owns the property that had been part of Hopewell Farms and is agricultural land.

The housing would be built on 27.7 acres of farmland near Tammany Manor Road.

The land, which is north of Virginia Avenue and along the south side of the Interstate 81 and Interstate 70 intersection, is zoned highway interchange II.

The project includes 27 residential units on 6.3 acres, 60 townhouse units on 8.7 acres and one 72-unit apartment complex on 4.3 acres.

The petitioners oppose any housing development on the property except family residential lots of size and density comparable to the lots of existing homes in the neighborhood.

The proposed development would affect the character and security in the residential area, Meyers said.

His group is concerned about traffic problems that tend to occur with population increases, he said.

The proposed development would hike population in the area by about 50 percent, and Virginia Avenue (U.S. 11) can't handle more traffic, Meyers said.

"Traffic jams are getting worse," he said.

Downey said additional housing is needed for current and future residents, and that he plans to do a traffic study.

He said Monday that developer Marc Silverman may develop the apartment part of the project. Downey said he wasn't surprised by the opposition because farmland is involved.

Meyers said Downey's proposal hit him and his neighbors "like a bomb," and they turned out to the Planning Commission meeting in droves to show their opposition.

"We're trying to be congenial and upfront about this," said Meyers, who thanked Planning Commission members for being receptive to his group's concerns.

Group members collected the petition signatures Sunday from people who live near the project and near Tammany Manor Road. They plan to get signatures from residents of Tammany Manor Road, Meyers said.

The project is not expected to come up for a vote for at least a few months, planning department staffers said.

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