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Group appeals Glen Afton ruling

August 18, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

A citizens group opposed to Glen Afton Acres, a proposed 169-unit housing development near the historic Harbaugh Church, has appealed a lower court ruling that allows the project to be built, the group's leader said Saturday.

John Blair was one of more than 40 opponents of the development who met at the historic church Saturday morning to announce the appeal was filed last week in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, the state's court of appeals in Harrisburg. The plaintiffs are represented by a Carlisle law firm.

Earlier this year, the citizens group filed a Common Pleas Court Suit in Chambersburg, Pa., against the Washington Township Supervisors after the supervisors approved the subdivision over the objections of local residents and the township's planning advisory board.

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The suit claimed, among other things, that Harbaugh Church Road is too narrow to handle the traffic the development would generate and that it goes against the township's comprehensive plan to protect prime farmland.

A three-judge panel heard arguments on the suit March 7. On July 19, the judges issued a 30-page opinion saying the supervisors had discretion concerning the width of the road.

The judges also said the development was consistent with the comprehensive plan because the plan only protects farmland where public utilities are lacking.

The Glen Afton Acres development will be served by the public water and sewer system.

Township officials could not be reached for comment Saturday.

The 140-acre site of the proposed development is owned by Mary Susan Elgin of Hagerstown.

Blair said he believes the higher court will find merit in the citizen group's appeal. He said that since the decision to bring the development to Washington Township was made by the local supervisors and a Franklin County Court, a court outside the county might see the case in a different light.

"I think this (court) decision should have some oversight," he said.

Several members of the group complained that Glen Afton, with its 133 single-family homes and 36 duplexes, will increase enrollment in the local school system, put more pressure on an already stressed public water system and jeopardize the historic church and its cemetery.

Blair said the group has raised more than $9,000 in donations toward its bill for legal fees. He said $6,000 was spent on the suit. The appeal is expected to cost another $6,000, he said.

"I'm asking people to make a contribution to make a point about development," Blair said.

Money raised to fight Glen Afton Acres is money well spent, he said.

"If it comes in, other developments will follow and that will change this valley significantly," he said.

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