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Recreation decision delayed by Chambersburg council

January 27, 2003|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Borough Council has again delayed a public hearing to amend its land development ordinance while it fine-tunes an agreement for recreation land with a developer in the north end of the borough.

The new ordinance would require developers to give the borough more land for recreation, or pay a larger fee in lieu of land, to create more substantial parks for youths and adults.

But before it approves the proposed changes, the council wants to finalize an agreement with GS & G, the developers of a residential and commercial tract along Norland Avenue.

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Last week, the attorney for GS & G presented the council with an agreement to set aside six acres for recreation as it develops the rest of the tract. The majority of council members have said six acres is enough, but they wanted a few revisions in the proposal before they would adopt it.

That pushed the planned public hearing on the amended ordinance from February to March, Borough Manager Eric Oyer said.

The changes in the agreement with GS & G include clearly stating the dedication will be one contiguous tract of six acres that will not be in any flood plain and narrowing down where the tract would be located.

"It just defines the conditions in language everyone understands and will understand in a couple of years when they are reading the agreement," Oyer said.

"I want to make sure it is stipulated this is one tract all together," councilman Robert Wareham said.

The borough and GS & G began negotiations last year in an effort to create a larger contiguous recreation area on the remaining tract. Under the current ordinance, the borough would be subject to receiving small and sometimes useless parcels from the developer as it slowly builds out the land with residential housing and commercial businesses.

GS & G would only be required to turn over 1.6 acres for recreation under the current provisions, but the amended ordinance would increase that to at least 3.2 acres and as much as 15 acres, depending on how the remainder of the tract is developed, Oyer said.

Currently, the borough requires that developers give 0.01 acre of land for recreational purposes for each housing unit they build in residential developments, or put $200 per unit into a recreational fund in lieu of the land. The amendment would double the land requirement.

Council members also spent some time last week discussing what to do with a 3,700-square-foot tract dubbed the "stomach" that it OK'd in one of GS & G's subdivision plans. The borough has not officially accepted the land and does not want to because it is a small parcel with limited access for recreation.

Several neighbors showed up to make sure the council knew it doesn't want to be saddled with the land, either.

Some council members have said it would be a measure of "good faith" to accept the parcel anyway, as part of the agreement for the six acres.

Wareham suggested the misshapen parcel be turned into a bird sanctuary with walking trails, but Recreation Superintendent Herb Dolaway said if the borough accepts the "stomach," the department will likely only have the funds and time to keep the grass mowed.

The revised agreement with GS & G will come back before council on Feb. 18. The public hearing on the amended land development ordinance is scheduled for March 25.

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