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Deal signed to transfer 225 acres back to Letterkenny

December 05, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Charles Myers, chairman of the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority, signed an agreement Monday to transfer approximately 225 acres from the Cumberland Valley Business Park to the adjacent Letterkenny Army Depot, after learning the process will be more complicated than first believed to have that land returned if the depot ever closes, an official said.

"The amendment to the memorandum of agreement was signed this afternoon," LIDA Executive Director John Van Horn said Monday.

Several people traveled to Washington, D.C., Monday to further clarify the U.S. Army's position about what would happen if the base were to close through a future Base Realignment and Closure Commission decision.

"If they're ever BRACed, that property would not be returned to the community automatically," Van Horn said.

Instead, the land being conveyed to the depot would undergo the same process that brought it under LIDA's control in the first place.

As a result of the BRAC decision in 1995 to transfer missions from Letterkenny, 1,425 acres of the depot were declared excess property by the Department of Defense. LIDA was created to redevelop the land.

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The Army still holds the deeds to most of the land undergoing transfer, but was supposed to eventually deed it over to the authority. The Army actually holds the deeds to the 225 acres it requested be returned.

No money will be exchanged for the 225 acres, Van Horn previously said.

Since LIDA was created, it has received deeds to about 600 acres of the 1,425 acres of excess property. About 250 acres have been sold and another 210 have been set aside for possible future use by the Chambersburg Area School District.

Col. Robert A. Swenson in October shared a master plan for the installation's future, which included reacquiring the land due to be deeded over to LIDA. His reasons for the acquisition included moving some depot functions to meet force protection and anti-terrorism guidelines.

Swenson said the depot's facilities near its perimeter should be moved to reduce the threat of realignment or closure in the next BRAC review.

LIDA's "core issue" is maintaining and improving the infrastructure, especially the sewer system, to accommodate the business park, Van Horn said.

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