Project Hearing Delayed. Request by
Developers Granted by Supervisors
Evening Sun Reporter (10/15/2003)
October 15, 2003 - A public hearing for a
1,140-home housing development in Liberty
Township resumed Tuesday after the
developers spent more than a month trying to
investigate an ownership question about a
strip of land that bisects the project.
But a few minutes after the hearing opened
with a roll call, Liberty Development Corp.
asked to postpone the proceedings until the
Nov. 5 supervisors' meeting. The supervisors
Liberty Development Corp. of Frederick, Md.,
wants to build a planned residential
development on nearly 710 acres along Tract
and Pecher roads. Preliminary plans include
townhouses and single-family homes ranging
from $200,000 to $500,000, an equestrian
center, walking and riding trails, a
shopping area and a new township hall.
Tuesday's hearing was the third for the
proposed development. The developers
postponed four hearing dates scheduled in
September to investigate a possible
ownership problem with a strip of property
ranging from 20 to 40 feet wide that may
bisect the project. Resident John Tomko said
there's no doubt he owns the property.
Township supervisors scheduled Tuesday's
hearing to keep the process moving, said
Leonard Sites, chairman of the supervisors.
"How long do you think we should delay this
major item?" he asked after the meeting. "We
have to have time to make a decision."
Supervisors have 30 days after the final
public hearing date to make their decision
about the development, said township
solicitor Walton Davis. But that may be cut
short if the final hearing happens after
Dec. 12. The township ordinance requires a
decision within 180 days from the plan's
submission. The plans were submitted July
15, making the final deadline Jan. 11.
"I don't know whether this plan is going to
last that long," Davis said, citing
challenges to the plan that are out of the
At the Nov. 5 supervisors' meeting, the
developers will reveal their progress on the
land ownership issue and ask to for another
postponement or schedule another hearing,
said Charles Zwally, attorney for the
developers. Until then, they plan to resolve
the issue, said Ed Wormald, director of
operations for The Wormald Companies, which
owns Liberty Development Corp.
"We will be meeting with the Save Our
Liberty attorney and the property owner to
discuss the issue and see about a mutually
satisfactory resolution," he said, declining
Save Our Liberty is a citizens group that
opposes the proposed development.
John Tomko, who says he owns the strip of
land, has agreed to meet with the
developers, he said after the meeting.
"I'm always open for discussion on any type
of thing," he said.
If the development is bisected by the
property, the plan will not comply with the
township's ordinance, Davis said. The
developers want to build a planned
residential development, and Liberty
Township requires that a planned residential
development be one continuous piece of
Because of questions about the strip of
land, developers submitted an alternate plan
two weeks ago. If the developers cannot
solve their "so called title difficulties,"
Zwally said they will continue with that
The alternate plan is for land east of the
strip in question. The new development,
Liberty Valley, includes an equestrian
center, commercial space and 1,181 housing
units, Wormald. More than 40 percent of the
homes in the 445-acre Liberty Valley will be
attached townhouses and condominiums, as
required by the township's zoning ordinance.
Township officials are waiting for their
engineer to assure the new plans for Liberty
Valley are complete before a public hearing
is scheduled. The township must submit the
plans to the county planning office for
review as well.
Wormald said Liberty Development Corp.
intends to submit plans for another
development, Liberty Estates, on the western
portion of the current plan. Liberty Estates
will stretch along Pecher Road and will
include 106 single-family homes on two-acre
lots, he said. The proposed plan will not
include the walking and riding trails that
created a buffer between the original
development and neighbors' land, Wormald
said. He does not know when the development
company will submit plans for Liberty
It is possible hearings for more than one
development plan may happen in the same time
period, Zwally said, but the developer
prefers the original Community at Liberty
"For one, we think a greater number of
single-family homes are preferable (because
of the current housing market)," Wormald
Also, the alternate plans do not include as
much open space.
If both plans are approved, the developer
has the right to decide which community to
build, Davis said.
"We are pleased to end up with either one,"
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