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Plan for tall building OK'd by Chambersburg Borough Council

March 29, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The land development plan for a building of up to 12 stories at the intersection of Lincoln Way West and Spring Street was approved Monday by the Chambersburg Borough Council, although several residents questioned that approval and the granting of an easement across borough property for the developer.

"I have never encountered any other local government ... who would grant an easement for an imaginary building," said Virginia Gill, wife of Councilman Ken Gill. She called the building "imaginary because no one has seen drawings for this 12-story building and its placement on his lot."

There is no blueprint as yet for the building being proposed by Bernard L. Washabaugh II of Second State Enterprises Inc. The land development plan shows the building taking up the entire footprint of the lot.

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"My only goal is to attempt to enhance that area and the downtown area," Washabaugh said. He said he had invested approximately $500,000 in the project so far "and those dollars are not imaginary."

The site along the Conococheague Creek is in the borough's central core zone, which does not require setbacks from property lines or allowances for parking areas, according to Phil Wolgemuth, the borough's director of planning.

Although the building was previously described as consisting of a five-story parking garage topped by seven levels of commercial, office or residential space, Council President William McLaughlin said a land development plan does not require the developer submit a detailed design of the project.

Ken Gill said he was concerned that a 1371/2-foot tall building would pose a safety issue since the borough's ladder truck can only reach to 95 feet. The borough's zoning hearing board previously granted a variance on the height limit of 72 feet.

"We are creating for ourselves, in essence, a whole new set of problems," said Gill, who cast the lone vote against approval of the plan.

Gill also cast the lone dissenting vote on a motion to approve an easement across borough property on the north end of the lot. Washabaugh requested the easement to provide access to the lot off Spring Street and it also would serve to allow access to fire equipment from that side of the property.

Glen Dice, who owns several downtown properties, said that by granting the easement, the borough was "giving away taxpayers' property" to help a developer.

The easement agreement calls for the developer to maintain and landscape the easement and is voided if the building is not constructed within five years, borough attorney Thomas Finucane said.

Ken Gill said giving away the easement encroaches on a planned veterans park north of the site that is already "no bigger than my back yard."

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