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Adjoining properties get different responses from planners

October 12, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The owners of adjoining 78-acre properties got different reactions to their rezoning applications Monday from the Washington Township Planning and Zoning Commission.

The commission members voted not to recommend rezoning the property of Barry and Annie Pifer from agricultural to residential, while tabling consideration of a similar request from George and Ellen Mason.

WAM Enterprises Inc. of Lemoyne, Pa., presented the rezoning request for the Pifer property, a sketch plan for which showed it subdivided into 174 lots.

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"This is a natural extension of the work we've done on the Diller farm," said George S. Lulos of WAM Enterprises. The type of housing envisioned for the tract would be "$300,000 and up," he said.

"I can't see a compelling reason to allow higher density," commission member Lisa Donohoe said. The zoning ordinance requires minimum lot sizes of 2 acres in agricultural zones, but in low-density residential areas lot sizes can be 10,000 square feet if served by public water and sewer.

"Somewhere along the way, we've got to get a handle on this water thing," said commission member Randy Kuhn, referring to the increasing demand residential development is placing on the municipal water system. Kuhn said he also was concerned about the amount of traffic the property, situated along the proposed township relief route, would generate.

The commission voted unanimously to recommend the Board of Township Supervisors not approve the application, but wanted more information before deciding on the adjacent Mason farm.

Representing the Mason family, Lane Thrush said there are no immediate plans to develop that property, but previous rezoning of nearby land and the relief route going through the farm will have "a major impact on what they can do with their dairy operation."

"The highest and best use of this property is no longer agriculture," Thrush said. The sketch plan for the property showed it subdivided into 120 lots.

Previous rezoning actions by the township and a planned relief route limit the Mason's access to rented farmland, said Roland Freund, a farming consultant for the Masons. Because of surrounding zoning, "construction of any future animal facilities are virtually impossible."

Freund said the land will be "impossible to farm in a few years."

"He's losing his ability to operate a farm of this magnitude," said Charles Sioberg, the commission's engineer.

"That still doesn't mean we must permit a rezoning that will result in higher density," said Donohoe. She said she was concerned that rezoning more than 1,000 acres of agricultural land in the township last year is creating a "domino effect" with other properties.

The commission tabled consideration of the application until its next meeting.

Several residents voiced concerns about rezoning, residential development and the effect on municipal utilities at the meeting.

Carroll Sturm, a candidate for township supervisor, said there were several days during the summer when water usage exceeded the pumping capacity of wells supplying the water system. He said the township should consider not approving rezoning applications until sufficient water is available.

Township Manager Michael Christopher said the township is developing another well and building more storage capacity.

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