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Township tables vote on ordinance

September 07, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Supervisors voted themselves back to the drawing board Wednesday as they tabled a proposal for changes to Washington Township Ordinance 220.

The vote, which drew many sighs of relief from residents who attended the public hearing, keeps the ordinance as is until the board can conduct further study and discussion.

Supervisor Stewart McCleaf emphasized that the proposed changes were merely verbal changes to the existing ordinance.

The primary change proposed by supervisors was to "delete" the definition of planned residential development (PRD) from the ordinance. Essentially, the change would delete the option of a PRD from the ordinance.

The 30 residents attending the hearing voiced a unanimous desire to keep the PRD option in the ordinance until either changes or a replacement ordinance could be drafted.

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"If I have a tool I no longer want, I don't throw it away until I have another tool to replace it," argued Mike Henicle, a developer and farmer.

Supervisor John Gorman clearly and repeatedly stated that his intent for deleting the PRD from Ordinance 220 was to replace it with an ordinance for conservation by design (CBD).

Some residents also were wary of conservation by design and the limitations it would place on development.

Citing the problems neighboring Antrim Township faces over its newly adopted CBD, Henicle and Darwin Benedict of Waynesboro argued that replacing PRD with conservation by design would effectively "take a farmer's net worth straight down the tubes."

According to Benedict, a farmer's net worth is assessed in part by the selling value of the farm. Conservation by design, he argued, will lower the number of developable acres, therefore lowering the value of the farm.

Jack Martin, a farmer from Waynesboro, asked supervisors to not take action that would lower his property value.

The proposal also included a change that would affect the proposed Cingular tower in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. Terry Marie Sebold spoke against the change saying that change was basically a trade of profits from Cingular for conserved forests.

Residents voiced concern that the opinions they offered on Wednesday were falling on "deaf ears" as Paul Gunder of Mentzer Gap Road put it. Gunder argued that by the point of a hearing, the board essentially had made its decision. Supervisors responded to residents by tabling the motion to take resident's concerns under advisement.

Chairman Carroll Sturm said that no definite date has been set when the proposal will be back on the agenda for a vote.

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