July 19, 2008

East Hempfield Rejects Higher-Density Housing

By O'Connor, David

It might look at first like a minor zoning change leading to a small housing plan. But East Hempfield Supervisor Doug Brubaker worried that it would become a one-size-fits-all for across the township.

So Brubaker and the other East Hempfield supervisors, after a lengthy discussion Wednesday, unanimously turned down a measure that would have allowed high-density housing in East Hempfield's R-1 residential zone.

The move came after Lancaster-area developer Bill Murry and attorney Stacey Morgan explained Murry's tentative plans for a 17- home development in the township.

While only sketch plans have been developed, the site eyed for the project is a 5-acre site on Nolt Road, near Nissley Road and Lyndana Drive.

But a neighborhood design overlay zone was needed to allow for the higher density of five units per acre that Murry sought, compared to the 3.6 units allowed now.

This would have allowed for more creative development of the land and a less cookie-cutter approach, Murry and Morgan said.

But East Hempfield supervisors Brubaker, John Bingham (the board chairman), Bernard Krutsick and Heidi Wheaton said they didn't want such a broad change, which could possibly affect the entire township.

The township is getting ready to take an overall look at its zoning and land development, Wheaton pointed out.

That review will start in September, Wheaton noted, so basically it's inappropriate to do this now.

Plus, the people really don't want it, she added, as a handful of neighbors spoke against the larger plan at the start of the supervisors meeting.

What we're doing is getting the horse before the barn by changing the zoning before there's a housing plan, one man said.

The nearby residents cited concerns of extra traffic and pointed out that a developer could buy adjoining tracts of land, creating a 20-plus-acre site that could have the higher-density allowance.

I hate to say the evil word Independence,' Brubaker said, referring to a 3,200-home development near Landisville that was halted after the East Hempfield supervisors denied a traditional neighborhood development measure.

That was in January, after residents had cited objections to that plan as well.

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