Road cost dispute leads to project delay in township

May 16, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Final approval of the Antietam Commons development, proposed with 221 homes and 10 commercial lots behind Martin's Food Market, has again been delayed, this time as the developers and township clash over an extension of North Welty Road.

At issue is whether WAM Enterprises and the Rachuba Group should receive financial credit for a roadway they build as Washington (Pa.) Township assesses its impact fees on the development.

Antietam Commons, on the Carl Diller farm, was first proposed as 250 homes last summer, but the developers removed houses from the flood plain at the urging of local residents. Now, WAM Enterprises, the Rachuba Group and the township solicitor are at odds over whether the main thoroughfare, an extension of North Welty Road from Pa. 16 to Washington Township Boulevard, is part of the township's Capital Improvements Plan and ultimately the relief route system designed to alleviate traffic congestion on Pa. 16.


"We're talking about a $1 million road we're building to township specs on a course (made) by the township," George Lulos of WAM Enterprises said. "We designed the project around this road. The first thing that was put on a blank piece of paper was that road."

WAM Enterprises and the Rachuba Group could be made to pay impact fees of $1,000 per residential dwelling unit and $2,714 for each vehicle projected to be entering each commercial lot during peak times. And, due to faulty wording in the Capital Improvements Plan, those fees could be imposed without the developers receiving credit for the road they, as Lulos claimed, "volunteered" to build.

The proposal would "double dip us to make us build the road and pay impact fees," Lulos said.

He said that he believed, through discussions with the township supervisors and staff, that the matter wasn't "whether we'd get the credits but how we'd memorialize the credits."

"I don't remember any promises regarding impact fee credits," Solicitor John Lisko said.

He reminded the board of supervisors that it is receiving about $80,000 from impact fees for an Applebee's Neighborhood Bar & Grill and $220,000 for Sheetz.

"We have 10 commercial lots there. Who knows how much money, if you give them credit, you're losing," Lisko said.

The two supervisors who have been on the board since the development was first proposed both said the credits should be issued.

"I was under the assumption you were going to get credit for it," Supervisor Stewart McCleaf told the developers.

Supervisor Chris Firme held up a copy of the Capital Improvement Plans as he spoke.

"In the chart area, it just says 'Welty Road Extension' to the relief route. ... As a board, we should be honest with them and allow that credit to occur when they build the North Welty Extension at least on the Diller tract," Firme said.

Supervisor John Gorman, who referred to the matter as the "several hundred thousand dollar question," pushed for more time to review the positions and supporting documents. Final approval of the plans has been delayed until the June 5 meeting.

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