Updated Oregon Village proposal clears first hurdle

MANHEIM TOWNSHIP, Lancaster County, Pa. --- By a three to one majority, the planning commission granted an updated Oregon Village redevelopment project proposal conditional approval, deciding the plan meets municipal ordinance.

The Oregon Village project aims to put more than 500 apartments and single family homes alongside commercial properties, including a hotel, around the Oregon Diary site.

A similar plan was rejected by the township commissioners in January 2017, citing the developers did "not meet the burden under our zoning ordinance to meet several of the technical and specific requirements."

Supporters of the proposal, such as resident Fern Dannis, believes the proposal takes advantage of designated mix-used land in the county.

She believes it can give a boost to Lancaster County's "places2040" economic development plan by not only creating homes for a growing workforce, but attracting out of county commuters back to the county.

She also said building along the corridors will help preserve farmlands in the county by taking advantage of lands that currently doesn't sustain agriculture.

“When you look at the fact that there could be up to 100,000 people or more moving into the area by 2040, we need to have housing fo these people and jobs and retail and places for them to work, shop and live,” said Danis.

Opponents of the proposal, such as Lancaster County resident Mary Haverstick of the citizens group "Respect Farmland," worry about the affects of putting a large scale development project in a small community.

Concerns expressed in the meeting Wednesday included increased traffic delays around the area, impacts on the school district, higher taxes and and adverse effect on the agricultural character of the region.

“These are costs to each one of us in our day. They’re financial costs, they’re hidden costs, these areas have to be policed, you have to put the children through school so these are costs to the taxpayer and these are really what I consider the fallout of these kinds of developments,” said Haverstick.

A similar meeting is scheduled for January 14 at the Manheim Township Public Library in front of the board of commissioners at 6 p.m.

That is expected to host more public input on the plan, as well as another vote on conditional approval.