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Township will receive state money for land buy

June 18, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

BLUE RIDGE SUMMIT, PA. - The state of Pennsylvania has put aside $150,000 for the Washington Township Supervisors to use toward the purchase of six acres of land otherwise destined to be a housing development.

A detailed letter arrived in Saturday's mail explaining how the supervisors should apply for reimbursement from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources when buying the land adjacent to Happel's Meadow Wetland Preserve.

"We have to purchase it first ... and send in a receipt," Supervisor Carroll Sturm said.

The supervisors, in their 2007 budget, set aside $300,000 to purchase the land from Kylea & Associates Inc. of Mercersburg, Pa. By law, the board of elected officials cannot pay more than the appraised value of the property.

The budgetary line item "was just to set aside the money, to put a hold on the money," Sturm said.

The supervisors have received $30,000 in community contributions for the project and want to raise $120,000 more to reach the balance, he said.

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"The recreation fund may have enough to make up the difference, (but) other recreation plans would need to be curtailed," Sturm said.

A second appraisal and a lot of paperwork need to be done before the deal is finalized, Township Manager Mike Christopher said. The purchase is on tonight's meeting agenda, he said.

The process could take weeks or months to finish, Sturm said.

Last year, Kylea & Associates proposed 18 single-family houses in the Blue Oak development on the site. Residents feared the property was wetlands, yet a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representative has testified that the houses were not planned on delineated wetlands.

Happel's Meadow Wetland Preserve is 73 acres of a donated drainage basin seven miles east of Waynesboro, Pa. The wetland committee has reported that George Washington's personal physician, Dr. Robert Johnston, grew ginseng there for exporting.

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