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Borough council to discuss Moss Spring lawsuit

April 23, 2010|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. --The Greencastle Borough Council will hold a special meeting Monday to discuss a pending settlement of litigation involving Moss Spring Estates, a borough official said.

A group of residents from Moss Spring named the Borough of Greencastle in two lawsuits they hope will keep them out of a homeowners association (HOA) in Antrim Township.

The residents sued the borough, the township, the HOA and Developer Frank Plessinger after their borough lots were listed on a township planned residential development (PRD).

Antrim Township voted on April 13 to sign the settlement, which exempted the plaintiffs from the HOA without compromising the plan as an approved PRD.

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The borough council will meet at 5 p.m. Monday evening to discuss the litigation, Borough Manager Ken Womack said.

Nancy Dunn, a plaintiff in the suit, said that in December 2006 she and 48 of her neighbors were informed in writing that they had to join the HOA, which was required by Antrim's PRD ordinance.

In a letter to homeowners, Plessigner's then-attorney J. Edgar Wine told the lot owners that Plessinger needed to include a mix of housing on his township plan to qualify as a PRD, 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.

Forcing borough residents to obey a township ordinance was "an illegal situation," Dunn said.

Attempting to resolve the issue out of court, she and some of her neighbors asked the council in February 2007 to take their side in the matter.

"We request the borough solicitor write to Frank Plessinger and copy Antrim Township Manager Ben Thomas and the Moss Spring residents that it is illegal to compel borough residents to be a member of a PRD Homeowners Association and to cease and desist," Dunn said at the time.

The borough took no action, yet when the Moss Spring residents sued the borough in 2008, Council President Charlie Eckstine said no one on the council anticipated the suit.

In 2008, Dunn resigned from an elected seat on the council and soon after joined her neighbors in the suit.

Antrim Township's decision earlier this month to sign the settlement agreement was a major first step for the residents, Dunn said.

"We are very happy with this decision," she said. "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.

Antrim Township Solicitor John Lisko said only the plaintiffs in the case will be exempt from the PRD and the HOA requirement.

The original complaint filed in Franklin County Court listed 29 Moss Spring residents as plaintiffs. On April 13, only 14 residents were believed to be exempt, Dunn said.

All parties in the two cases must sign the agreement for it to go into effect, Dunn said.

Those which still must sign include the borough, Plessinger, the HOA, Franklin County Judge Richard Walsh and all the plaintiffs, she said.

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