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Chambersburg-area animal shelter to ask for help in acquiring land

July 08, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- The Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter plans to shortcut the process of acquiring land for a new shelter by asking the Letterkenny Industrial Development Authority to exercise its right of first refusal on the property.

Several months ago, the Chambersburg Area School District announced it would transfer 11.2 acres of land to the shelter. The parcel is part of 210 acres was once been part of Letterkenny Army Depot and was transferred to the district through LIDA.

Transferring school district property, even for the symbolic figure of $1, however, would require appraisals to establish fair market value and court approval, said Nancy Gardner, president of the shelter's board of directors.

That process could take several months to a year and cost the shelter thousands of dollars, Gardner said. On Monday, the shelter outlined a plan to circumvent that process to LIDA's board of directors, she said.

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"We have a right of first refusal" on the sale of land transferred from LIDA to the school district, said John Van Horn, executive director of LIDA. If the school district receives an offer for the land, LIDA can make its own offer to purchase it, he said.

The shelter plans to next month formally ask the LIDA board to exercise that right, Gardner said. The shelter could make an offer to the district, LIDA then uses its right of first refusal and sells the land to the shelter, a process that would not require court approval, she said.

The school district has agreed to cooperate in hastening the transfer, Gardner said.

Van Horn said no members of the board of directors expressed opposition to the plan at Monday's board meeting.

The shelter has about two years left to move out of its home on Country Road in Guilford Township, Gardner said. CSX Railroad built a rail and truck facility next to it and reached an agreement last year to buy the shelter for $600,000, she said.

Gardner said the shelter received $300,000 up front as part of the deal, with the balance contingent on the shelter moving by 2010. Securing ownership of the site would mean the capital campaign to raise money for the 16,000-square-foot shelter can begin in earnest, she said.

A new shelter could cost upwards of $2 million, but Gardner said no specific estimate has been developed, as the shelter seeks in-kind contributions to bring the price down. The site for the shelter would be in the former Kenny Gardens military housing development, which will require asbestos abatement before demolition.

The Chambersburg Area Development Corp. has agreed to reimburse the shelter for the cost of asbestos removal, she said.

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