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Housing growth will have huge impact on area: Editorial

Posted 6/13/18

We’ve talked many times in editorials about the impact that commercial growth likely will have on the area.

We’ve discussed the new hotels going up near the airport, the potential for …

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Housing growth will have huge impact on area: Editorial

Posted

We’ve talked many times in editorials about the impact that commercial growth likely will have on the area.

We’ve discussed the new hotels going up near the airport, the potential for new businesses to grow in locations such as the Elks Theatre, the former Bunky’s, and the former thrift shop on Union Street. We’ve talked about the potential that the new Amtrak station will have in drawing visitors to the business district. We’ve pondered what kind of impact the fledgling Middletown Business Association might have.

In recent weeks, however, we have reported on projects in the residential realm that likely will impact the area more than any new business development.

The Woodland Hills development, located on 168 acres running from just off North Union Street east to Vine Street, will entail a total of 440 new homes over 10 phases of development; including 150 apartments, 125 townhouses, 119 single-family detached homes, and 46 semidetached homes. Of course, that will take years. But construction is underway. This spring, Woodland Hills’ builder CB Burkholder finished the first model home. CB Burkholder is showing the model home to prospective buyers.

As large as that project is, it is a mere fraction of what we could see in Londonderry Township in the coming years.

The proposed Lytle Farms housing development would add 1,600 homes, townhomes, apartments and a business district on Route 230, just across the Swatara Creek from Middletown’s eastern edge.

On June 4, township manager Steve Letavic said that the township continued to work with the potential developer, and that the main issue is public sewer costs.

Imagine that: 1,600 residences. Londonderry Township currently has a population of about 5,200. If each residence averaged just two people, that would grow the size by 3,200 people, assuming they aren’t moving from another part of the township.

This is in a township that has no police force and a very small retail base.

Think about the impact that residential growth will have on infrastructure, retail, roads and other resources.

Look at the work being done to Route 283. The plan is to rebuild six miles of Route 283 from the Toll House Road interchange to the interchange with the Pennsylvania Turnpike and 283. Crews are working on the westbound route and will work on the eastbound route next year. Construction is expected to be completed by 2020.

That needed work will make it even easier for those in Middletown and Londonderry Township to get to Harrisburg.

Many of the people living in these new developments might also be heading the other direction, toward Lancaster.

If you shop at the Giant or Karns, don’t you think that store will see a lot more traffic when and if these two major developments are completed? Will Middletown restaurants feel the effects of this substantial growth?

The early plans for Lytle Farms call for a “business district” to be part of the development. As of now, we don’t know what that will entail, but certainly food and gas will be priorities. Could, say, another Sheetz be built there to parallel the one on Route 230 west of Middletown?

We support growth, both commercial and residential, as long as it is done with the proper amount of planning. If Lytle Farms is completed as planned, it will change the face of the area forever.

Letavic seems to be aware of that balance:

“We made a very deliberate decision through our planning process not to extend [public] water and sewer townshipwide because we do not want townshipwide development. We want to keep development where we think it belongs, which is along the Route 230 corridor,” Letavic said. “It gives us the ability to create a tax base while maintaining the rural nature of our municipality.”

Even if you don’t live near either proposed development, you will feel its effects, be it through more crowded stores and restaurants or a slower commute over the area’s roads.

Embrace it now and consider the challenges, because change is coming.