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Washington Township Supervisors OK Gardners' development plan

October 07, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- It was by slim margins that the Washington Township Supervisors on Monday agreed to support Charles S. Gardner III and Letitia Gardner's pursuit of road access that would allow them to build 12 houses on Mount Dunlop.

The supervisors ultimately voted 3-2 to send a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation backing the Gardners' request to have PennDOT sell them a road that at one time was limited to military and emergency vehicles going to Fort Ritchie.

The final vote followed an hour-long discussion and other failed motions.

Supervisors John Gorman and Christopher Firme, who voted against the support letter, staunchly opposed houses on the highest and narrowest portions of the ridgeline. They walked around the site on Saturday and presented Charles Gardner with three reworked options for land development - none of which he said would be acceptable.

"What we really and truly want to do is protect the ridge, the ridge top," Firme said.

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The Gardners already agreed to donate almost seven acres of the peak to the township for preservation. They also planned to limit clearing to one acre per lot, although Charles Gardner on Monday amended the earlier agreement to an additional 2.8 acres to the township and only three-quarters of an acre cleared on each lot.

Firme made a presentation at Monday's supervisors meeting and asked for a 6.8-acre donation in addition to the previously promised 7 acres.

"There's no more acreage being given. It's time you folks realize you can't take, take, take from Mr. Gardner without compensation," said Tim Misner, an attorney representing the Gardners.

Charles Gardner said he and his sister envision a low-density development with large lots.

"You're not looking at a mountain anymore. You're looking at a development. It essentially whittles down the view of Blue Ridge Summit," Gorman said.

Elaine Gladhill, Carroll Sturm and Stephen Kulla voted in favor of supporting the PennDOT request. Gladhill said she feared that not working with the Gardners could result in 35 homes rather than 12, while Sturm said he appreciated the Gardners' cooperation and Kulla said the family has a right to develop its land.

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