(Sep. 11, 2003) Despite two nights
and nearly seven hours of testimony, the
Liberty Township, Pa., board of supervisors
still hasn't been able to vote on the
proposed 1,142-unit housing development
planned just north of Emmitsburg.
This week's two-day
public hearing was supposed to determine the
fate of a 709-acre equestrian-themed
neighborhood to be developed by Liberty
Development Company LLC. It quickly became
apparent, however, that several more nights
would be needed. About 350 attended Monday's
session and around 200 came Tuesday.
nights have been scheduled for later this
Residents in both
Adams County, Pa., and neighboring
Emmitsburg have spoken out in strong
opposition to the plan, saying it will
congest roads throughout the region,
overcrowd schools, overburden the fire and
police services, among other problems.
organization fights community
As soon as the
application for the Community of Liberty,
which is a part of the Wormald Companies,
became public, a resident activist
organization known as Save Our Liberty
formed to combat the development.
attorney for Save Our Liberty, told the
board of supervisors this week that the
group believes Liberty Development does not
own all of the properties to be used in the
Though Smith argued
that supervisors should consider that
subject first to save everyone time, the
board denied the request, allowing Liberty
Development attorney Charles Zwally to
continue presenting his case.
As of Tuesday
evening, only two Liberty Development
witnesses had testified and one of those
will be cross-examined at the start of the
next scheduled hearing.
Zwally also said
that the statement by Liberty's general
manager Ed Wormald on Monday that all the
properties are owned by the company should
be sufficient. He challenged Smith to prove
otherwise when she presented her case.
On Monday, Wormald
said there was a verbal agreement with one
property owner and contracts with the rest.
On Tuesday night, he testified he obtained a
written contract on the property that day.
Also on Monday,
during the cross-examination of Wormald,
Smith questioned several items in the
marketing materials for the community.
One item was a claim
stating a design charette was conducted for
the community. A design charette usually
involves several people in a brainstorming
session about a project, however Wormald
admitted that only two people were involved.
He said Bob Wormald
and one other person participated in the
charette, which was held in California. No
one from the community was involved, he
Diane Bittle, a
co-organizer of Save Our Liberty, lives a
little more than four miles from Emmitsburg.
She said members of SOL believe the project
is simply too large for the small, rural
By the time Liberty
is completed, it is slated to have more
homes than are currently in all of
She also said if
Wormald's application had been submitted
now, it would be denied because the
community is in the process of changing its
zoning, something she suggested the company
knew when it submitted the application July
and leaders have expressed concern over
several issues that could impact the town,
traffic being the most significant. That
issue will be discussed at future hearing
The impact of the
community on fire and police services was
discussed by Richard Koch of the engineering
firm Gannett Flemming.
Koch testified for
the Wormald Companies that Fairfield, Pa.'s
fire company would have a 10- to 15-minute
response time to Liberty. Emmitsburg's
Vigilant Hose Company is less than seven
minutes away, he said. He also stated
Vigilant would likely be called because the
company has a special piece of equipment
used for structural fires.
Wormald offered this
week to pay a one-time-payment of $250 per
new home to the Fairfield Fire and EMS
No mention of any
compensation for Vigilant Hose has been
made, according to the board of supervisor's
Soaring Association, which operates a
100-acre airport abutting the proposed
community, also opposes the development.
spokesman James Trygg questioned Wormald
about concerns he has that residents would
ultimately try to get rid of the airport
because of noise. He said the planes' flight
path is just 300 feet above the equestrian
center, potentially spooking the horses.
Trygg said the flight path cannot be
Barbara Ruppert, a
member of Save Our Liberty, said she is also
concerned about residents complaining
because the community is close to her farm.
The need for a low-traffic route to drive a
tractor was also mentioned.
Wormald, along with
his attorney, said information about the
airport and farm could be disclosed in the
public offering statement that goes to every
homeowner telling them about a number of
things, including the plan for the area.
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