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Bypass would wipe out farm

April 08, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

A plan approved Monday night to build a 7-mile bypass around Washington Township calls for the purchase of a 78-acre farm that has been in the same family for seven generations.

The current owner of the property says the family doesn't want to sell.

According to a preliminary map, the bypass would either begin west of the Borough of Waynesboro on Pa. 16 near Tick Ridge Road or at a point a little farther east near Prices Church Road, meet Prices Church and run generally north and east around the borough, cross Pa. 316 and Pa. 997, Tomstown Road, Gehr Road and Country Club Road.

It then would join a new road that would connect Old Forge Road with Country Club Road at a soccer complex. The bypass eventually would reconnect with Pa. 16 east of Mentzer Lane.

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Called Phase One, the new road would dissect the Shank Farm and cut through land owned by Knouse Orchards and Dave Layman, according to a preliminary map.

Phase One would include extending North Welty Road along the southern edge of Wayne Heights Mall and the Diller Farm to the bypass. That would require a bridge over the East Branch of Antietam Creek, according to the plan.

The township plans to build several new buildings on 48 acres on the south side of the bypass, to be called Washington Township Boulevard. Included are an administrative center for all township offices, an emergency management center, vehicle storage and maintenance buildings and a stone and salt storage area.

Across the bypass, the remaining 30 acres of the Shank Farm would be turned into recreation facilities.

The supervisors, on a 4-0 vote, authorized the township's attorney to begin eminent domain procedures against Barry G. and Annie R. Pifer, owners of the Shank Farm off Country Club Road.

Supervisor Richard Eigenbrode abstained.

Barry G. Pifer told the supervisors Monday that Eigenbrode first approached him and his wife about selling their farm in the summer of 2001.

The farm has been in the family since 1816, Pifer said.

"It is our intention to retain Shank Farm for agricultural purposes for the foreseeable future," Pifer said. "It is also our intention to conserve and improve the historically significant house and bank bark barn built in 1859 and 1860 for eventual use as a second residence. We also intend to preserve the land along Antietam Creek as parkland. Consequently, it is neither our desire nor in our interest to sell Shank Farm at this time."

The farm has been owned continuously by seven generations of the family. "It is our intention to preserve that inheritance as best we can for our children and grandchildren," Pifer said.

Plans for a bypass have been on the books for more than a decade and will carry the town 50 years into the future, Benchoff said.

"Washington Township was a quiet little township in 1950 with 4,700 people living here," he said.

The 2,000 census showed a population of 11,559 or an increase of 240 percent. The 240 percent projected 50 years from now would put the population at 25,000, he said.

He said that in 1966, 7,240 vehicles crossed Pa. 16 in Wayne Heights. By 1990 the number had grown to 23,000 vehicles a day.

"We have decided it is time to plan for the future instead of letting the future plan for us," Benchoff said.

"The township is in the very infancy of this bold initiative," he said. "We have not secured any rights-of-way or acquired any property at this time. We plan to work with the current property owners to acquire the needed property."

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