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Borough council backs Letterkenny land-use study

March 25, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

Chambersburg, Pa. - The Chambersburg Borough Council recently added its endorsement of a joint land-use study that could prove beneficial to preserving Letterkenny Army Depot's operational capacity when the Base Realignment and Closure Commission meets next year.

The scope of the land-use study would be threefold, Borough Manager Eric Oyer said. It would examine the depot's current missions, look at possible future missions and examine their impact on the surrounding communities.

In the case of Letterkenny, the adjacent municipalities are Letterkenny, Hamilton and Greene townships, Oyer told the council Monday night. According to the resolution, Franklin County has agreed to be the sponsor for the study and asked the council for its endorsement as well.

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If the study, in cooperation with the Department of Defense's Office of Economic Adjustment, is approved, the borough will be expected to appoint representatives to an advisory committee and take part in the study, the resolution said. The borough also would agree to "consider the study recommendations and their implementation to the extent that the recommendations are feasible and practical."

Oyer said the endorsement will not require the council endorsing a check to help pay for the study.

"The anticipation is there will be no local funds except in-kind services" from those who volunteer to participate in the study, he said.

The Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority, which is developing a portion of the depot that was turned over for civilian use after it was downsized by the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, is trying to arrange state and federal funding for the study, Oyer said.

The joint land-use study is one of several areas being explored in an attempt to spare the depot from further cuts or closure in 2005. Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell visited the depot to hand out $150,000 in state funds for studies and job training to enhance the viability of the 17,000-acre depot.

In November, Col. Wendell L. Taylor of the Office of Economic Adjustment told local and county government officials that two possible "areas of encroachment" had been identified at the depot - the detonation of old ammunition and a radar testing site. Taylor said neither appeared to pose a serious problem to residents and properties outside the depot.

More important, Taylor said, was determining how expanded operations at the depot would affect the community. Conversely, the study would examine how development outside the depot could limit its future operations.

During Rendell's visit last month, Depot Commander Col. William Guinn said the depot has about 4,500 acres of land available for expansion.

According to depot figures, Letterkenny employs more than 1,900 civilian workers with an annual payroll of $106 million.

"This should set Letterkenny up in an excellent position" to make its case against downsizing or closure, Councilman John Redding said of the joint land use study.

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