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Washington Township, Pa. town-house plan comes under fire

August 13, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — A 60-unit town-house development planned in Washington Township, Pa., came under fire Monday from three residents and some members of the township planning commission.

Concerns included crime, nearby property values, safety for children, play areas, traffic and overcrowding schools.

Ultimately, the Washington Township Planning Commission voted 3-1 to recommend the township supervisors approve the plan. The Washington Township Supervisors are expected to consider final approval for New Forge Crossing in coming weeks.

The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency awarded Woda Group LLC $2 million through the PennHOMES funding program and another $1 million in tax credits, according to documents at www.phfa.org.

Total tax credit equity is $9 million, according to Andrew Cohen, senior vice president of Woda Group.

If approved, Woda Group would develop and manage 48 town houses and 12 handicap-accessible units off Washington Township Boulevard and Old Forge Road. The development would be accessed by a private road that abuts the Walmart parking lot.

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The housing on 11.5 acres is designated for low- to moderate-income families.

Township officials had concerns about a bus stop on Old Forge Road. Township Manager Mike Christopher said Monday he recently received word that the stop will be moved to the road accessing the development.

Planning commission member Jay Heefner said his issue did not relate to the development approval process. However, as a former educator, he worries about the impact on schools.

“The schools are packed now in the Waynesboro Area School District, particularly Hooverville Elementary School. ... This may mean people will be bused to other schools,” he said.

Planning commission member Kyle Hess said he thinks a play area shown on plans is undersized.

“I don’t feel a lot of consideration was taken for all the kids,” he said.

“Traffic is going to be horrendous,” said planning commission member Randy Kuhn, who voted against the commission’s recommendation.

An earlier plan for the site showed 120 units and passed a traffic engineer’s evaluation for the road being sufficient, Christopher said.

Chris Nygard of Woodlea Drive said the police already go to Walmart often and he worries the development would generate increased need for law enforcement.

“The pros outweigh the cons with Walmart, so we put up with it,” Nygard said.

Nygard said the land should have ever been zoned medium-density residential and wanted the plan put on hold.

“This is still reasonably prime retail land right next to Walmart and Lowe’s,” he said.

“The plan is before us, and you cannot deny it because it’s not zoned commercial or whatever,” said Chris Firme, chairman of the planning commission.

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