Non-Profit Internet Source for News, Events, History, & Culture of Northern Frederick & Carroll County Md./Southern Adams County Pa.


 County officials say zoning doesn't allow planned residential development

Erin Negley
Evening Sun Reporter

(12/16/2003) A housing development that could nearly triple Liberty Township's population should be denied because planned residential developments are not permitted in the area where it is proposed, according to the Adams County's Office of Planning and Development.

The planning office has recommended Liberty Township supervisors deny plans for Liberty Valley and issued a 36-page report Wednesday detailing why it came to that conclusion.

Liberty Development Corp. wants to build a 1,181-dwelling development on about 445 acres along Crum and Tract roads. The plan calls for a retail town center, a new township hall, horse stables, open space and equestrian, walking and biking trails.

The community will include 596 single-family homes, 273 townhouses and 312 condominiums. Condominiums will average $155,000 in price; townhouses will average $215,000. The single-family homes will range from $245,000 to $380,000.

Richard Schmoyer, the director of the office of planning and development, said Liberty Township's zoning ordinance does not allow Liberty Valley, which is a planned residential development.

Planned residential developments - which combine several different types of housing, such as single-family houses and townhouses, in the same project - were allowed in Liberty Township's general use zone. In 1985, that type of development was removed from the zone, but the requirements remain in the ordinance, Schmoyer said.

"We don't think the intention is to have them at all," Schmoyer said. "We're just not comfortable with how the ordinance reads and whether this is allowed at all."

That conclusion shocked Ed Wormald, director of operations for The Wormald Companies, which owns Liberty Development Corp. Thursday evening. He said he did not have a chance to review the office's comments.

He said planned residential developments are allowed in the zoning ordinance.

"We're real pleased with the Liberty Valley plan, and we believe that it fully complies with the zoning ordinance and, you know, we're anticipating approval in the next month or two," he said.

The report from the planning office also raises questions about water resources and the possible impact on wells that serve nearby homes, a concern raised by residents when Liberty Township officials were reviewing Liberty Development Corp.'s first proposed development, The Community of Liberty.

The corporation withdrew those plans after a title issue arose on a piece of land that bisected the proposed site. Instead, they decided to propose two separate developments, Liberty Valley and Liberty Estates, a 106-home subdivision for which plans were submitted in November.

The developer has drilled two wells that pump 100 and 150 gallons per minute and could be enlarged to yield 600 to 800 gallons per minute to serve the proposed homes.

The report says that information does not ensure pumping water for Liberty Valley will not negatively affect neighboring wells.

"We are concerned that approval of the proposed (planned residential development) and the adjacent Liberty Estates subdivision are just the beginning of a major 'urbanization' process within the valley east of Ski Liberty, and that groundwater supplies could easily be depleted in the future," the report reads. "The township should ensure that there is a 'backup plan' in effect if water quality or quantity problems should occur."

The planning office report also says Liberty Valley is inconsistent with the township's comprehensive plan. The development is in the middle of the township's largest potential agricultural preservation area and the comprehensive plan says higher density developments should be permitted in the residential, not rural areas.

Plus the county's comprehensive plan sets the land where Liberty Valley is proposed aside for very low density development - or one dwelling for each 20 acres. At that ratio, 22 houses would be built on the property, not 1,181.

Liberty Township's supervisors will take the suggestions from the county office of planning and development into consideration when they make their final decision for Liberty Valley. Township engineer William Hill said he plans to give his recommendations at the upcoming township planning commission meeting.

Read other articles related to Fairfield