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Deal reached on land near Whitetail

June 23, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

MERCERSBURG, Pa. -- Montgomery Township, Pa., and the private developer of 36 acres near Whitetail Resort have reached an agreement more than 10 months after the developer sued the municipality.

Township supervisors Michael Rife, Gregory Weller and Bill Coble signed the agreement and release Monday afternoon. Their legal counsel, Tom Steiger Jr., said details of the agreement would not be made public until signatures are obtained from representatives of Winter Greenes Joint Ventures LLC.

Hanno Rittner, a partner in Winter Greenes Joint Ventures LLC, said a signature page has been mailed for the agreement settled out of court.

"One of our agreements basically puts a gag order on us. ... Certainly there's always a relief when things are completed," said Rittner, who filed the lawsuit last summer with his business partner, Jeff Piper.

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Repercussions following the decertification of Montgomery Township's former sewage enforcement officer, Jack Reed, were at the heart of the lawsuit. Rittner and Piper argued they lost a $2.6 million contract with Oliver Homes when sewage problems were being negotiated.

The replacement sewage enforcement officer disputed Reed's findings and declared half the lots were unsuitable for on-lot septic systems.

"There was just no single solution," Rittner said.

"Negotiations have been ongoing for some time," said Steiger, whose law partner, Shawn Meyers, did most of the township's negotiating.

Rittner said the agreement allows the development process to resume for the site. There will be higher density housing and an on-site sewage system to serve the homes, he said.

Original plans showed 23 lots with upscale houses of 2,000 to 3,000 square feet each. Two model homes were built on the property, which went under contract in November 2004.

The suit claims the township made interest payments on Winter Greenes' loan for 11 months, something Piper and Rittner previously said cost the township $3,000 to $6,000 a month. Rife said Monday that the payments did not extend beyond the 11-month period.

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