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Some glad to see housing nixed

June 15, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

WILLIAMSPORT

Vickie Bridendolph found it difficult to envision Allison Avenue as anything more than what it was - a gravel driveway.

But if a developer had its way, the gravel path that runs across her front yard would become a paved outlet for 131 town houses that would be built next to her home near Williamsport.

"I've got grandkids and they're used to running up and down this road," said Bridendolph, 54. "With 131 town houses, what's it going to be like up and down this road?"

Bridendolph was among several residents to applaud the Washington County Commissioners' consensus Tuesday to deny zoning requests submitted by Heritage Land Development and Portrait Homes, whose combined requests would have added nearly 1,100 homes outside of Williamsport.

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An official board vote is expected next Tuesday.

Portrait Homes proposed 131 town houses on the 24.3 acres of land between Interstate 70 and Tower Drive. Heritage Land Development proposed 967 housing units on the 328 acres of land off the east side of Edward Doub Road.

Board members said the developments would strain already crowded schools and add traffic to the region's narrow roads. Washington County Public Schools officials have projected that next school year only 144 seats will available at the five schools serving Williamsport - Williamsport High School, Springfield Middle School and Fountain Rock, Hickory and Williamsport elementary schools.

Bridendolph, a school bus driver, lives in what would have been near the middle of the proposed town house development.

"I was afraid they'd make me get rid of my horse," said Bridendolph, who said she could not afford to move.

Don Hays, 70, lives on Tower Drive, the narrow road that runs parallel to Allison Avenue. Hays said he moved there 35 years ago with his wife, Gloria, and has raised three children.

"My Lord, there'd be so many houses out here, it would be out of this world," he said. "The road out here isn't big enough."

The Britner family owns two farms and several properties along Sterling and Doub roads. The property has been in the family for at least 40 years. But after decades of running the farms, the family wants to sell the land, about 190 acres total, said Joel Britner, 48.

"It's not worth farming anymore," Britner said.

The family, with another group of property owners, hired Heritage Land Development to convert the land into a 967-unit development. The plan called for a mixture of town houses and single-family homes and even included plans for a pool and shopping center, according to county documents.

Britner said the development would have brought more money to the county.

"We did everything they wanted, and they did this to us," Britner said of the Commissioners' decision. "It's very disappointing."

Timothy Fega, president of Heritage Land Development, said the group would likely withdraw its request and would consider resubmitting a plan with fewer units.

Representatives from Portrait Homes could not be reached Wednesday.

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