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Township supervisors turn down rezoning requests

April 05, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Lawyer Timothy Misner's argument that 100 cows once got loose and ran amok did little to convince the Washington Township Supervisors Monday that they should rezone a 138-acre farm for residential development.

The supervisors, in a unanimous vote, denied a request by Misner, who represents William B. Hess, to rezone Hess' farm on Fish and Game Road.

They also denied the rezoning of 45 acres of Gertrude Stilts farmland, some of which is adjacent to Hess' land.

Misner also spoke for Stilts.

A third request also was denied to rezone 12 acres of commercial land on Pa. 997 across from Henicle's Market owned by Kylea & Associates. The owners want it rezoned to R-2 to build up to 73 townhouses.

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About 25 residents showed up for the public hearings.

The supervisors received a petition signed by 29 residents opposing the rezoning of the Hess and Stilts properties. The petitioners argued that the rezoning is not consistent with the township's comprehensive plan and would have a negative impact on nearby wetlands.

John Gorman of Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., was among residents opposing the farmland rezonings. His issues were the potential high housing density and the fate of two wells, including one known as the Hess Well, which the township plans to add to its public water source.

Richard Delaney, an Old Forge Road neighbor, expressed concern about the wells and asked how long they would last.

Supervisor Stewart McCleaf said the Washington Township Municipal Authority issued a recent report saying there is adequate water to last until 2011, even considering all new developments, planned but not yet built.

Misner argued that the Hess farm and adjacent Stilts property are surrounded by residential development. He said there isn't enough land left in the two tracts to allow for an independent farm operation. "Farms are much larger today," he said.

Misner had no sketch plan on how both tracts would be developed.

Under Pennsylvania law, landowners do not have to give reasons when asking to have property rezoned. The same law allows municipal officials to deny such requests without explanation.

McCleaf said he made the motion to deny the Kylea & Associates rezoning, "because that land has always been zoned commercial. I don't see any reason to change."

He said he opposed the Hess-Stilts rezonings because "they don't have any development plans."

Supervisor Christopher Firme said he considered the citizens' opposition when he voted.

Supervisor Richard Mohn Jr. said after the meeting that "I do not believe that it is prudent at this point ... to rezone any farmland along the Antietam stream in this somewhat isolated area."

The Antietam Creek runs through the Hess property.

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