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Growth patterns in Chambersburg area outlined

June 23, 2005|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG Pa. - Residential growth in the Borough of Chambersburg and surrounding townships is proceeding at an unprecedented rate and it must be controlled and planned for, a panel of county, borough and township planning officials agreed.

The Chambersburg Area School Board sponsored a community growth panel discussion during a meeting Wednesday evening.

Panel members each presented their view of the growth.

Superintendent Edwin H. Sponseller moderated the discussion, which was intended to help the school board make decisions on the number and size of the district's schools.

"We just want to know what they think is going on," Sponseller said.

Two real estate agents, an engineer and several county, township and borough officials voiced their views during the 90-minute session.

Phil Wolgemuth, borough planner, said commercial growth is happening in the south end of the borough near South Main Street and Mill Road, while residential development is in the southwestern part of the borough.

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Wolgemuth said Nicholson Square will have 478 housing units, the Enclave will have 151, and Laurich Meadows, which is nearing completion, will have 231 units. There will be 467 units south of Mill Road in the next several years.

The people moving into these homes are "a mix of empty-nesters, people from out of the area and county people moving into the borough. We feel we have the means to meet this development," Wolgemuth said. "We're making plans to handle the traffic."

Guilford Township Supervisor Greg Cook said 438 lots are ready for sale and another 1,482 are being reviewed.

"Farmland in the residential zones is for sale," he said. "In 2004, 160 new dwelling units were built, 20 more than in 2003."

Lurgan Township is mostly farmland and does not have public utilities, township supervisor Joe Reese said.

"We're in the process of updating our comprehensive plan. We expect a 12 percent increase in population through 2020," he said.

Realtor Adrian Simpson said he has seen more growth in the last two to three years than he had in the previous 30, on a percentage basis.

"A 50-unit lot sold out in three years, with homes in the $300,000 to $400,000 range. It used to take a year to sell 17 duplexes," he added. "The last one sold out before the plans were completed. They sold for $190,000 to $195,000 for 1,800 square feet."

Several panel members said much of the growth is people moving in from Frederick County, Md.; Baltimore; Washington, DC; and northern Virginia. They can sell their home there, buy a larger one for less here, and pocket the difference. People coming from those areas "can't believe the prices," said Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Association.

"And local people also can't believe the prices," he said.

With 29 years in the real estate business, Roger Mellott said he has "never seen anything like the market we're in. We've been discovered, no doubt about it. From Mont Alto north and into the borough and then south is where the growth will be."

Out-of-state developers are building many of the new homes.

"What was built out in 20 years to support the family business is now being built out in three years by outside developers," Hamilton Township Supervisor Michael Kessinger said.

Dave Jamison, Greene Township supervisor, said he would like to see better communication between the municipalities and the school boards.

"We could share agendas, and if something comes up about development, we could have a school board member sit in. We're all in this together," he said.

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