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Township to have property adjacent to wetlands appraised

August 22, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The lion's share of 6.31 acres designated for 18 new single-family houses in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., will be appraised and possibly purchased by Washington (Pa.) Township.

The township supervisors, backed by the opinion of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representative, said the proposed homes, the chemicals on their lawns and runoff from their driveways could be detrimental to the ecosystems in the adjacent wetlands.

The supervisors entered a closed-door executive session with Mercersburg, Pa., developer Thomas Mongold on Monday to discuss buying the land that abuts Happel's Meadow Wetland Preserve. The township, by law, is only permitted to purchase land for the appraised value.

Using a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant to fund half the purchase, the township could still be saddled with spending more than $100,000 for the land, Township Manager Mike Christopher told two neighboring property owners.

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They responded that area residents would be amenable to fundraising to further protect the 83-acre Happel's Meadow.

"Every dollar will help, I guess, at this point," said Elaine Gladhill of Carrosmar Farm Road. She talked about placing money jars at businesses, operating car washes and hosting seminars to learn about the ecosystems.

Christopher cautioned that "a bunch of things have to line up" before the sale is finalized. That includes receiving the appraisal, applying for the DCNR grant by Sept. 29 and obtaining matching funds without burdening taxpayers, he said.

"The other half needs to be generated locally or from another foundation," Christopher said.

Mongold was agreeable to initial talks of the sale and has been told he could probably develop a few houses on the site, according to Christopher.

Mongold will have his own appraisal conducted in addition to the one for the township, Supervisor Carroll Sturm said.

The developer and township also talked about maintaining an easement along Pennersville Road that could someday be a walking trail, Supervisor John Gorman said.

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