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Non-action clears way for housing plan

June 19, 2003|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Waynesboro Borough Council on Wednesday night took no action on a 22-unit housing project in the borough's south end for low- and moderate-income residents, a move that means the project is approved.

The council's unanimous non-action on the issue followed an executive session that lasted for more than 20 minutes.

The Council had three options, according to Borough Solicitor Lloyd Reichard. They could approve the project, vote it down or take no action. Taking no action had the same effect as approving it, Reichard said. The council could not deny the project because it had no legal grounds to do so, he said.

Bonnie Zehler, executive director of the Franklin County Housing Authority, said Wednesday night the authority will continue to process its paperwork with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency with plans to begin construction in the fall.

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The housing authority had already won approval for the project from the borough planning commission and Zoning Hearing Board.

The council did not shoot down the project because it met all the requirements, Borough Council President Douglas Tengler said.

The project is to be built on housing authority land behind its Mount Vernon Terrace public housing complex.

It was the subject of an eight-page letter last week from Tengler and Councilman Clint Barkdoll to the executive director of the state Housing Finance Agency that contended a market study by a Pittsburgh consulting firm that supported the need for the project was flawed in many areas.

The letter, among other things, said the consultant listed several fictitious Franklin County communities as areas the project may serve.

The two councilmen said in their letter that they were "appalled and confused" that the study included communities that did not exist.

The market study also listed statistics that showed that the number of people eligible for such housing would fall over the next three years.

Tom Mills of 960 Park Ave., one of the leaders of the citizens group fighting the project, submitted a petition with the names of more than 100 neighbors opposed to the project in their neighborhood.

Anthony Avenue resident Harold G. Martin read a letter he sent to the head of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency saying he was appalled at its approval without a more thorough review of the market study prepared by the consultants.

"This is a community of single-family homes populated by a stable population of home owners who take pride in our community. A low-rent housing area with an obvious high turnover of transient residents is completely out of place," he said.

Barkdoll, Tengler and Mills pledged to continue to lobby against the project with the state agency.

Several who spoke against the project were rewarded with loud rounds of applause. About 35 people attended the meeting.

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