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Council favors bigger parks

August 21, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The consensus of Chambersburg Borough officials is to shift the borough's recreation philosophy toward creating neighborhood parks rather than the mini-parks of past decades.

To achieve that, the borough will vote on amendments to the subdivision and land development ordinance in the next month or two that will double the amount of land developers must set aside for recreation or increase the fee they must pay in lieu of land to the borough.

Council members spoke favorably of a draft of the changes at Tuesday's council meeting. That draft will be presented to the Planning and Zoning Committee at its next meeting and then brought back to council for a vote, Borough Manager Eric Oyer said.

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"This puts a little muscle behind the borough and let's the developer know what our needs are," said Bill Fosnot, chairman of the borough's Recreation Board.

The changes give the borough more flexibility in planning for future recreation needs, said Herb Dolaway, recreation superintendent.

Changes to the ordinance were spurred in part by two parcels that developers of the Gabler Tract in the north end of the borough plan to deed to the borough for recreation. Both parcels are oddly shaped and relatively undesirable for recreation, council members and residents said.

"Developers have been giving us the least desirable pieces of land they could get rid of," Councilman Scott Thomas said. "Our recreation needs will probably change. We have to have foresight."

Borough officials are negotiating with the developers for a much larger recreation parcel as it builds out the remainder of the subdivision, Oyer said.

The proposed ordinance changes would require developers of subdivisions with more than five units to set aside .02 acres per unit, or 15 percent of the total development, for recreation. If developers don't want to dedicate land, they can pay the borough market value of the land, said Gary Norris, borough planner. That money would be spent on recreation needs.

Dolaway said the trend for years was to have small parks in walking distance to all residents, but that has shifted in favor of parks greater than 6 acres to allow for baseball, softball and soccer fields, which require 1.2 to 1.7 acres each.

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