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Developer officially pulls out of Williams farm tract, says company heeded public's opposition

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 6/6/19

NorthPoint Development, the Kansas-City based company that was interested in buying and developing most of the 239-acre Williams farm off Fulling Mill Road, will not pursue rezoning the land and is …

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Developer officially pulls out of Williams farm tract, says company heeded public's opposition

Posted

NorthPoint Development, the Kansas City-based company that was interested in buying and developing most of the 239-acre Williams farm off Fulling Mill Road, will not pursue rezoning the land and is dropping its contracts on the property.
Brent Miles, chief marketing officer and founding partner of NorthPoint Development, said during the Lower Swatara Board of Commissioners meeting Wednesday night that his company had heard from residents and families that NorthPoint’s plan wasn’t supported by the community.
“I want you to hear it right from me, we heard that loud and clear,” he said.
In March, the real estate agent for the tract confirmed that most of the land was under contract. No plans were ever submitted to the township, so there’s nothing to withdraw, Miles said.
Everyone has been very transparent, Miles said. He said there weren’t any closed door meetings.
“We want to respect the neighborhood and live by our core values and respect you as the governing body as well and get this issue off your plate for discussion and comment and tweeting,” Miles said.
Township staff did meet with NorthPoint in the spring, and a preliminary drawing showed two buildings on the tract north of Fulling Mill Road and one to the south. At the time, township manager Betsy McBride said the drawings, which weren’t left with the township, looked like “warehouse, light industrial.”
Some Lower Swatara Township residents wore yellow and white “No Rezone” stickers during the commissioner meeting.
“You’ve got a packed house, and stickers on the shirts, I see here, so that’s a warm welcome,” Miles said.
Residents spoke before and after NorthPoint’s presentation.
“Do you want Lower Swatara’s landscape to be warehouses and commercial properties dotted with small residential areas?” asked Barbara Florence, a township resident for nearly 27 years.
Resident Laurie Castagna said while she doesn’t oppose the farm being sold or developed into an allowed use under its zoning — most of the land is zoned residential agricultural — residents can’t let their guard down because the property is still for sale.
“Hopefully if we get wind of another NorthPoint coming into the picture, we’re going to be here again,” Castagna said.
Although NorthPoint is off the table, as resident Shane Bryant sees it, the issue of changing the zoning of the farm will be raised again, and he said he was worried about the land being pieced off.
“I don’t know how the market is for agricultural properties. I don’t think it’s that great. I think we’re going to end up with a zoning question again. My question is, what is the definitive answer for a rezone? That’s what I’d like to know,” Bryant said.
“Well, if you want to know my opinion, and I’ve been here since 1977, Fulling Mill Road was never thought to be lined with residential properties on it,” Commissioner Ron Paul said.
The 2017 update to the comprehensive plan recommended rezoning part of the farm to the north of Fulling Mill Road and to the south of Fulling Mill and east of Lumber Street to residential commercial.
“I think our goal is to get the right blend of mixes in there based on the surroundings, the people, and whatnot. I don’t think it’s fair to sit here and just assume that that area will never be rezoned. I think that’s foolish,” Paul said.