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Watershed meeting packed

Residents ask questions related to the redevelopment of Fort Ritchie and its impact on the Falls Creek area.

Residents ask questions related to the redevelopment of Fort Ritchie and its impact on the Falls Creek area.

July 19, 2007|by ASHLEY HARTMAN

WAYNESBORO, PA. - The Washington Township meeting room was packed Wednesday night, and it wasn't for a township supervisors meeting.

Representatives of Corporate Office Properties Trust, Fort Ritchie (COPT) and PenMar Development Corp. attended an Antietam Watershed Association meeting to discuss and answer questions related to the redevelopment of Fort Ritchie and its impact on the Falls Creek area. Falls Creek is a major tributary to the Antietam Watershed.

Citizens addressed their questions to Bill Hofmann, senior property and environmental services manager for COPT, and Rich Rook, executive director of PenMar Development Corp.

Fort Ritchie closed down as a U.S. Army base in 1998, and in October, 591 acres were transferred to PenMar Development Corp., then sold to COPT, which is redeveloping the land.

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Officials are awaiting the transfer of the final 91 acres from the Army to PenMar, Rook said.

The revised plan for redeveloping the area, which was unveiled earlier this month, calls for more single-family homes and town homes, and fewer multifamily homes.

Currently, 45 buildings, amounting to 365,000 square feet, have been removed from the 1.7-million-square-foot property at Fort Ritchie, Hofmann said.

One woman asked if the two lakes in Fort Ritchie could be lowered sooner in the event of a storm. The water levels of the lakes are lowered to allow space for rain water.

"I really do believe you need to lower the water in the lakes sooner than you do now because there's too much water rushing out all at one time, and it has definitely increased the flow of water on my property," said the woman, who lives beside the east branch of Antietam Creek.

Hofmann and Rook said they would take the woman's suggestion into consideration.

Another woman asked about additional impermeable surfaces (surfaces that do not absorb water) that might be created when building single-family homes in Fort Ritchie.

"How much extra water is that going to create as runoff for storm water management," she asked.

Rook said it had been determined that there would be adequate water flow and storm water management in the area.

"We will consider parking lots that are pervious surfaces - slowing down water as it leaves the property," Hofmann said.

Rook said the developers are being very conscious of the environment during the renovation process at the old fort, which was built by the Maryland National Guard in the 1920s. He said they are recycling materials as buildings are demolished, removing asbestos and building LEED (leadership in energy and environmental design)-certified structures. None of the new properties will border the lakes.

In Pennsylvania, the Antietam Watershed includes the area from the head waters of Antietam Creek near South Mountain, Pa., and the area of the east and west branches of the Antietam. The branches join together at the Maryland state line and flow into the Potomac River.

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