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Candidates seek to balance preservation and growth

May 15, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Seven candidates are running for Antrim Township Supervisor in the May 19 Pennsylvania Primary. Only two seats on the board are open. All seven candidates appear on the Republican ballot.

Incumbents James Byers and Fred Young III will attempt to keep their positions on the board when they square off against challengers John Alleman, Larry Eberly, Jeff Todd, Dan Pellicano and Greg Moats.

The candidates raised many issues that concern Antrim Township at a recent forum including the continuing struggle to balance growth with preservation of natural resources.

Antrim Township saw a sharp increase in growth around 2005.

Zoning and Code Enforcement Officer Sylvia House said the boom of development in the township started in 2005 and continued through the end of 2007.

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During that time, Antrim approved 140 developments, including major projects like Red Oak Estates, and phases of Melrose Meadows and many smaller projects.

As more lots were sliced out of what was once agricultural land, Antrim adopted a progressive and highly restrictive new development approach known as Conservation by Design in 2006.

The Board of Supervisors adopted the idea because its current policy, a planned residential development or PRD ordinance, gave developers too much latitude and the township wants to preserve much of its natural landscape, Former Township Manager Ben Thomas said.

With the housing market in a lull and only a few commercial developments proposed in the last few years, the board said it is committed to fostering commercial growth in the township to help grow its tax base.

The Herald-Mail asked each candidate to briefly address the balance between continuing growth in the township and preserving Antrim's vast agriculture.

Editor's Note: The following question was asked of each candidates for Antrim Township Supervisor as part of a larger survey. Candidates were asked to keep their responses brief. Each response was edited for length and to fix typos or errors. Otherwise, the following responses appear as they were received from the candidates.

Question: Do you want to see Antrim focus on continued growth (population, commerce, etc.) or focus on preserving its farms and open space?

Jeff Todd, 50, Molly Pitcher Highway: I firmly believe growth in Antrim Township cannot be stopped. Antrim Township is a very popular and attractive place to live and work. I would really like to see more growth in our commercial areas. If that happens, our tax burdens will be lessened for our residents. It is going to be difficult balancing farmland preservation and continue growth, but with careful thought and good judgment, I feel we can accomplish both.

John Alleman, 58, Pennsylvania Avenue: We need commercial growth so our population has good places to work and receive good wages. This does not mean eliminating or reducing the farming and open space areas. Today's farmers are still very important to our community but as all things today there is less people to keep the farms going so their younger generations need to have options that will allow them to stay in the community. We need to keep the farmers as they know what it takes to keep the area "alive." We need "Green Space" for quality of life.

Fred Young, 37, Lynn Drive: Commercial and Economic development has been relatively non-existent for several years, while our population has increased substantially with the added residential development over that same period of time. The supervisors elected since 2005 have taken an aggressive approach in encouraging economic and commercial development while preserving the rural nature of Antrim Township. Further commercial and economic development will shift the tax burden from the residents of Antrim Township to those businesses that choose to locate within our community.

Larry Eberly, 59, Grant Shook Road: Currently, approximately 70 to 75 percent of the township is zoned as agricultural. I would like to see it stay that way to try to protect that area and to preserve our agricultural background. Any growth or development should be guided to the areas currently zoned for this (growth), which is where infrastructure is in place or planned. I believe we can preserve our farms and still allow for future growth through good planning.

Dan Pellicano, 50, Buchanan Trail East: I don't view this as a "this" or that" option. It doesn't have to be one way or the other -- nor should it be. The key to both of these issues is maintaining an equilibrium -- a state where we have the right kind and amount of growth. A growth that complements preservation rather than endangering it. Growth can be very good for stimulating the economy, however, too much growth can actually have a detrimental effect. And while preserving farmland and open space is vitally important, taken to an extreme, it can stifle growth and prosperity. There is quite a bit of opportunity available for growth and development without impeding preservation.

James Byers, age not available, Grindstone Hill Road: Antrim Township needs to attract more quality businesses and industrial establishments to land already zoned for these purposes in order to bring in more revenue. It is also a priority to preserve prime land currently being farmed. There is a balance that must be maintained in order to continue to enjoy our rural heritage.

Greg Moats, 37, Marsh Road: Did not respond the Herald-Mail's questions.

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