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Lytle Farms, School Heights may move ahead; new developers apparently ready to take over

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 4/17/19

The long-awaited Lytle Farms development project as well as School Heights Village behind Saturday’s Market might be moving ahead as new developers take over the projects.

Londonderry …

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Lytle Farms, School Heights may move ahead; new developers apparently ready to take over

Posted

The long-awaited Lytle Farms development project as well as School Heights Village behind Saturday’s Market might be moving ahead as new developers take over the projects.

Londonderry Township manager Steve Letavic said there are two new developers, although he could not say who they were, during a town hall meeting April 6.

Five residents attended the meeting and asked Letavic and supervisors Mel Hershey and Mike Geyers questions about a number of topics, including the proposed developments that potentially would mean thousands of new residents in the township.

But an ongoing issue will in part decide the future of the developments — infrastructure.

“This is all going to hinge on the sewer,” Letavic said.

Resident Frank Bialas said he noticed orange flags behind Saturday’s Market.

“I know the property behind Saturday’s Market is under agreement. The Lytle farm is under agreement. The real question is, can we find a solution — a wastewater solution that is economically feasible?” Letavic said.

Residents wouldn’t see any major changes for at least three years, Hershey said.

There have been talks of the two housing developments for years.

Tuck-A-Way II LLC was proposing to develop 340 acres on either side of East Harrisburg Pike entering the township from Middletown. The development would include 1,600 residences that included single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and apartments along with commercial space, offices, community and recreation area and dedicated space for a new elementary school.

According to the Dauphin County Recorder of Deeds’ website, the deed is still held by Tuck-A-Way, which bought the land in 2009 for $4.6 million.

Hershey said the new developer planned to have a traditional neighborhood design on one side of the East Harrisburg Pike and commercial on the other.

School Heights Village would be located behind Saturday’s Market and bordered by Beagle Road to the north. It would include 986 homes on 197 acres made up of single-family homes, townhomes, apartments and commercial space, according to previous plans.

The deed for the land was transferred from S&T Bank to F&M Trust Company of Chambersburg in July for $1.

Under the 1966 Pennsylvania Sewage Facilities Act, known as the Act 537, municipalities are required to develop a sewage facilities plan, and Londonderry’s plan calls for public sewer systems in Londonderry Estates and Sewer Districts No. 2 and 3, or the districts where the Lytle Farms and School Heights Village developments would be located.

A public water pipe has been extended from Vine Street to the edge of the Lytle property.

According to the township newsletter, it would cost about $35 million to meet the plan requirements. Letavic said both Suez and Derry Township Municipal Authority have potential sewer capacity.

Letavic said he’s still working on sewer agreements, although he added that he was hoping to have something by June.

“I’m trying to find a way that we can meet our 537 plan requirements without passing the cost directly onto our residents. The only way you can do that is if you partner with developers,” he said.

With about 5,200 township residents in 2,100 households, Letavic said it’s a simple equation.

“If you don’t develop, you die on the vine because you’ve got to spread that money over 2,100 households,” Letavic said.

We want controlled growth, Geyers said, and Letavic said the township wants to develop along major and state roads.

“We wanted to control where it went so that we could create a tax base, and preserve the rest of the rural nature of the township,” Letavic said.

We have to grow the township’s tax base, he argued. Residents will say they don’t want to have their taxes raised, but also don’t want development.

“You can’t have 2,100 homes, a static revenue base, unfunded mandates and mounting liabilities on your roads and bridges and think you can continue this way. … Better develop in the near term or we’re going to die on the vine,” Letavic said.

However, Letavic said the township is “under the gun.” The township submitted their Act 537 plan to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection in 2016, and the public sewer system to Londonderry Estates was to be fully operational five years after DEP approved the plan.

Letavic said the last time he met with DEP, they gave the township time to work on their plan because they knew Letavic had been working on it for 10 years. DEP, he said, told him that the township wasn’t going to get another 10 years.

With two developers having the land under agreement, Letavic said he thought the plan was closer to becoming a reality than it was several years ago.

“That’s better than we had before,” he said of the agreements.