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Green Grove Gardens making way for special events center

October 12, 2007|By ASHLEY HARTMAN

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Greencastle could have a new special events center as soon as Dec. 1 if construction goes as planned at Green Grove Gardens, according to one of the developers.

In June 2006, Green Grove Properties L.P. proposed a plan to create an events center called Green Grove Gardens on the farm at 1032 Buchanan Trail East in Greencastle.

The plan was approved about a year later by the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors. It is now zoned as community/commercial.

Jerry Martin, one of the developers of Green Grove Gardens, which is across from Long Lane Road on Pa. 16, said that for 15 years the land was used as an events center for weddings and concerts.

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However, at the time, the land was zoned as agricultural, which did not allow it to be used for commercial events, according to Angela Garland, Antrim Township zoning officer and public works inspector.

Township officials shut down the site in 2004 due to safety concerns.

"We were notified of an event that went against zoning," Garland said. "Any time you have any type of property zoned agriculture/residential, you can't just open it to the public."

Garland said the driveway was inadequate because it was difficult to see oncoming traffic when exiting the property.

"This was the biggest concern - sight distance," Garland said.

Martin contends that he was told by an Antrim Township official that he could have up to 400 people on his property when it was zoned as agricultural.

"We had numerous weddings," Martin said. "We never had more than 300 to 400 people and whenever we had that (gospel) concert (in 2004) and had 1,000 people, that was a no-no."

"I had a gospel concert and (Antrim Township officials) came over and wanted to know how many people (were there)," Martin said. "I said 1,000 and they said I'd have to bring it up to code."

Garland said Martin was never told he could have that many people on his property when it was zoned as agricultural.

Once the zoning of the land was changed to community/commercial, Antrim Township required that the driveway meet nonresidential requirements per the township's code, according to Lynda Beckwith, a public works inspector for Antrim Township.

The land also required a public sewer and compliance with zoning, subdivision and land development ordinances, said Ben Thomas, township manager.

Martin is constructing a new paved entrance to the property and a parking lot that will hold 400 cars. Martin also is upgrading an existing building on the property for the events center and he said it is nearly finished.

In order to have access to Pa. 16 and construct an adequate driveway, Martin purchased 3 1/2 acres from Jay Meyers, a nearby resident. The new entrance, which will be 500 feet from the present driveway, will be constructed on the plot of land Martin bought from Meyers.

Since Pa. 16 is a state road, PennDOT required improvements to meet their specifications for the entrance to the facility.

"We have to put two turn lanes in because of the amount of people they are anticipating," Martin said of a right and left turn lane that PennDOT required be put on Pa. 16 by the developers.

Martin said the project will cost him several million dollars, including the cost of the improvement to Pa. 16.

"These type of facilities are needed in this area," Garland said.

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