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Blue Oak land appraised at $300,000

September 28, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A 6-acre parcel of land in limbo between a developer who wants to build 18 houses and neighbors who want it preserved has been appraised at $300,000 for possible purchase by the Washington Township (Pa.) Supervisors.

The appraisal is comparable to the amount developer Kylea & Associates Inc. of Mercersburg, Pa., previously mentioned as a sales price, Township Manager Michael Christopher said.

The acreage, which was surveyed for the Blue Oak development, would be added to the adjacent Happel's Meadow Wetland Preserve.

The township supervisors, who by law cannot pay more than the appraised value, are hurriedly applying for a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant to fund the purchase. That grant would match the township's contribution, officials said.

At the supervisors' workshop meeting Wednesday, Christopher said the township has received 300 signatures on petitions to support the purchase and $31,000 worth of pledges from the community.

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"That's a pretty big number," Christopher said. "That's an impressive number."

"It's a lot of neighbors coming together because we don't want it there," said Theresa Rock of Pennersville Road.

People involved in fighting the development now realize they should have provided more input into the ordinances that govern development, she said.

The purchase also has received letters of support from groups like the Franklin County (Pa.) Watershed Association, Conococheague Audubon Society, Antietam Watershed Association and Emmitsburg Historical Society. Doris Armstrong Goldman, who holds a doctorate in biology, wrote three pages to the conservation department about vascular plants, birds and turtles in the area.

Wednesday's discussion followed the township's annual town meeting, which elicited public comment about Conservation by Design, sidewalks, overgrown trees and weeds, noise, stagnant water and the installation of a traffic light at the intersection of Pa. 16 and North Oller Avenue. That traffic light is a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation issue, yet could cost the township $200,000, Christopher said.

The meeting also included Christopher's annual "State of the Township" presentation. Highlights were that the township is headed to another record year for property transfers and earned income tax collection; the first section of Washington Township Boulevard has been added to the township's roadway system; crime and accident rates are up; and five residents are serving on a landscape design committee.

The presentation also included figures that show 290 land-use permits were issued before Aug. 31; the planning commission had reviewed 47 plans by the end of August compared to 28 at that time in 2005; and that land-use permits have been issued for 79 single-family houses, six town houses and 11 mobile homes.

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