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Antrim supervisors vote to settle HOA dispute

April 14, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Antrim Township gave hope Tuesday to a group of 14 Borough of Greencastle residents who have spent the last four years fighting their way out from under township regulations.

In a unanimous decision, the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors voted to sign a settlement agreement exempting the 14 homeowners from the Moss Springs Planned Residential Development (PRD) and its required Homeowners Association (HOA).

Those borough residents sued Antrim Township, the Borough of Greencastle and developer Frank C. Plessinger in March 2008 after two years of "asking nicely" for help to fix what resident Nancy Dunn said was "an illegal situation."

"We live in the Borough of Greencastle, this PRD is in Antrim Township," Dunn said. "How can they expect us to be subject to township ordinances?"

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Antrim Township approved the Moss Springs PRD prior to December 2006 when Plessinger's attorney notified 42 borough residents they were required to join and pay dues to the HOA of the PRD.

Dunn and many of her neighbors fought to be exempt from the PRD in 2006, claiming that it was illegal for Plessinger to include their developed lots in a proposed plan in a neighboring municipality.

Plessinger included the borough lots on the plans of his PRD, filed in Antrim Township, in order to meet township requirements, Dunn said.

In a letter to homeowners, Plessigner's then-attorney J. Edgar Wine of Dick, Stein, Schemel, Wine & Frey LLP told the 42 lot owners that Plessinger needed to include a mix of housing on his plan to qualify as a PRD under Antrim's ordinances, Dunn said.

"In order for that mix to be obtained, (Antrim) Township required that your lots, which generally would be detached single family homes, be included in the area designated as a planned residential development," Wine wrote in the letter dated 2006.

Most of the homes planned to be built in Antrim Township as part of the PRD were "villas," a more dense residential housing.

After years of executive sessions on the lawsuit, the township board of supervisors ruled Tuesday that it would accept the settlement agreement exempting the homeowners.

It also voted to amend the agreement to state that the exemption would not affect the validity of the PRD or HOA.

In order for the settlement agreement to go into effect, multiple parties must sign the agreement, Dunn said.

Representatives of Antrim Township, the Borough of Greencastle, Plessinger and the HOA as well as Court of Common Pleas Judge Richard Walsh and all the plaintiffs must sign the agreement, she said.

Knowing that their four-year struggle could soon be over brought a smile to Dunn's face.

"We are very happy with this decision," Dunn said Tuesday. "We had lived in our home for five years when we got the letter telling us we were now part of a PRD and had to pay HOA dues."

While 42 lots in the Borough of Greencastle were listed by Plessinger as part of the PRD in Antrim Township, Township Solicitor John Lisko said only those party to the lawsuit will be exempt from the PRD and the HOA.

Plessinger's attorney, James Stein, was unavailable for comment Tuesday evening.

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