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Norland Ave. extension deal moves forward

July 24, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Chambersburg Borough Council on Tuesday authorized an agreement with the owners of a large tract of land in the borough's north end that could open the way for an extension of Norland Avenue to Walker Road and the development of more than 290 acres.

The $3 million for a road through the Gabler tract includes $2.4 million in federal transportation funds administered through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and is contingent on the borough providing a local match of $600,000, according to the agreement.

Under the agreement with GS&G Properties, the partnership that owns the land, the company will assume responsibility for the $600,000 local match. GS&G can credit the value of the right of way, once it is established, toward the local match, according to the agreement.

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Before the 3,700-foot road can be built, water, sewer, gas and underground electrical lines have to be extended under the right of way, according to Borough Manager Eric Oyer.

The borough is seeking a $1.25 million grant for that project through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development's Infrastructure Development Program.

"Isn't that grant money somewhat the linchpin of all of this?" Council member Carl Helman asked at Tuesday's Borough Council meeting.

Without the grant, the developer would be responsible for putting in the utilities, Oyer said.

"The clear understanding with the Gablers is the borough doesn't pay a penny," borough attorney Thomas Finucane said.

Oyer said the borough will be in charge of design, engineering, awarding bids and other aspects of the project. "In the end, it will all be dedicated to the borough," Oyer said of the extension.

"The application was submitted in May and we have been led to believe strongly that it will be approved," L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., said prior to Tuesday's meeting.

Ross, who has been working with the borough during the grant process, said he believes the grant will be approved once the state budget is finalized.

Ross said the grant also would pay for the construction of the intersection for Norland Avenue at Walker Road. With the road, intersection and utilities, the entire cost for the two-thirds-of-a-mile road would be $4.25 million.

"With the extension of Norland Avenue you will have what will emerge as one of the hottest development corridors in the area for the next three to five years," said Ross.

"It's already exploding," he said, noting the construction in recent years of the Keystone Health Center, Summit Health Center, St. Paul United Methodist Church and other commercial and institutional properties along the existing section of Norland Avenue.

"It has the potential to have a really significant positive impact" on the borough's tax base, Ross said. He said the land is a mixture of commercial and residential zoning.

He said the project is independent of the proposed Exit 17, which is to tie into Walker Road, but development of the land could be accelerated by the interchange.

The proposed interchange first received federal funding in the late 1980s. The conceptual plan for the Norland Avenue extension was approved by the council in 1997.

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