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Wormald Development agreement
 reached for 569 new homes

James Rada
Emmitsburg Dispatch

(12/6) By 2023, Liberty Township could be more than 150 percent its current size if a settlement agreement reached between the Liberty Township Supervisors and Wormald Companies is approved by an Adams County judge.

The Liberty Township Supervisors released the details of the agreement during their Dec. 4 meeting. Three years in negotiations, the supervisors, Wormald Companies and 80 percent of the property owners most affected by the development have signed off on the agreement.

“Originally, there were 1181 house properties in the original plan,” said Supervisor Chairman Peter Foscato. “That has now dropped to 499.”

In addition, the Liberty Estates section of the 701-acre development has decreased from 106 houses to 70. All of the houses in the new plan will be single-family homes with lots no smaller than 7,000 square feet rather than the mix originally proposed.

The new concept plan clusters the houses more to create additional large areas of open space. In the Liberty Estates design, 32 percent of the space is preserved and the open space plan has 60 percent of its space preserved.

“By us owning so many acres, what it’s done is preserve 300-some acres in perpetuity,” Developer Ed Wormald said.

Overall, about 10 percent of the land is expected to have an impervious surface, which is nearly half of what the original plan called for.

“It provides areas for the rainwater to regenerate our aquifer,” said Supervisor Vice Chairman John Bostek. “We took that into account as we went through this.”

Though the number of houses in the plan has been cut by more than half, residents still had concerns about the number of houses and the impact of those houses on area wells and voiced them to the supervisors.

“To add 200 homes, 500 feet from my house, that worries me,” said resident Bill Arnold.

Pump testing for the Wormald wells will be expanded beyond the typical timeframe to make sure the water usage from those wells does not adversely affect neighboring wells. If it does, Wormald would have to mitigate the impact. New roads will also be constructed without curbing to encourage water to runoff the impervious surface and percolate through the ground.

“It would appear that there is enough water underneath this valley that three Wormald developments could go in,” Bostek said.

Liberty Township has 914 residents or around 365 homes. The new Wormald plan for 569 houses or a 156 percent increase over 15 years. No new homes would be constructed until the fifth year after final approval of the final design.

Besides Wormald, Liberty Township is expecting two additional development proposals, though none near the size of Wormald. The Mirage development is for 42 houses and the Steel and Associates projected size is 174 houses.

The agreement allows for some potential tax benefits to current residents. “We have significantly reduced the number of roads in this neighborhood that will come to a state or township road,” Foscato said.

He explained that because these roads will be maintained by the homeowners’ association, current township residents will not incur additional expenses to maintain the roads while new residents’ taxes will help pay for current road maintenance.

One supervisor did see a possible cost increase. “I could see our police department probably increasing,” Supervisor Paul Harner said.

The signed agreement now goes before Adams County Judge Michael George, who will have the final say.

Then and Now
A look at the original Wormald proposal and what was settled on.

                                                          2004                              2007
Total acres                                701                          701
Total residential acres                  582                          332.65
No. of houses – Open space plan   1181 various types      499 single-family
No. of houses – Liberty Estates     106 single-family         70 single-family
Impervious surface –                   19.20 %                    <15 %
Preserved land – Open space plan                                 60 %
Preserved land – Liberty Estates                                   32 %

Source: December 4, 2007 Wormald Settlement Agreement overview.

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