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Land near Letterkenny Army Depot could be home to animal shelter

October 11, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter could have a new home next year at a former military housing complex at Letterkenny Army Depot now owned by the Chambersburg Area School District.

The school board voted unanimously Wednesday to authorize the administration to work on an agreement to convey a 10-acre parcel to the shelter. The property is the former Kenny Gardens, about 36 apartment and town house units that in recent years have been used for training local firefighters.

Attorney Frederic Antoun was at the meeting on behalf of neighbors living near the tract and he cautioned the district to do its homework before moving forward.

The land he said is not zoned for an animal shelter and was meant to serve as a buffer for nearby residents against future development on the former depot land, Antoun said.

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An animal shelter would not be an approved use on the site, but could be a conditional use, which Antoun said would require public hearings.

"I'm not an animal lover. I like animals. My wife is an animal lover," Antoun said during the public comment period. "Animal shelters can get a little noisy."

The Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter on Country Road in Guilford Township earlier this year announced plans to move after reaching an agreement with CSX Railroad. The railroad has opened an intermodal terminal next to the shelter to transfer rail cargo to and from trucks.

Under the agreement, CSX has agreed to pay the shelter $300,000 to relocate and construct a new shelter, plus another $300,000 once it is completed.

When the deal was announced shelter officials said the cost of a new building could exceed $1 million.

Rick Vensel, the school district's business manager, estimated the cost of demolishing Kenny Gardens at $400,000, a cost that would be paid by the shelter if the conveyance goes through.

"The property is much more of a liability to us" than an asset, Board President Thomas Orndorf said.

Vensel said a deal with the shelter could take until spring to draft. Board solicitor Jan Sulcove said the conveyance would require court approval.

The Department of Defense agreed years ago to convey more than 200 acres of excess property at the depot to the school district, Vensel said. Only about 55 acres has actually been deeded over to the district since then, he said.

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