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South Middleton Township has hired a consultant firm to design a master plan for the Walnut Bottom Road corridor in the township’s northwest quadrant.

On Thursday night, South Middleton Township supervisors unanimously approved the selection of Michael Baker International for around $70,000 to create the plan, which will relate to a township comprehensive plan update in the works.

At the same time, township supervisors agreed to accept a $35,000 grant from the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission that will help fund the study. Township manager Cory Adams said on Thursday that as of now, the master plan’s approximate $70,000 price tag appears to be covered.

In May, the township was awarded a Municipal Assistance Program grant for $17,500 from the state Department of Community and Economic Development. The township is required to provide matching funds for the DCED grant.

Township officials previously said they were assisted in applying for the DCED grant by representatives of the Michael Baker engineering firm, which is based in Pittsburgh.

Adams said on Thursday that he expects it will take the Michael Baker firm around seven months to complete the corridor plan. The township commissioned the plan for the Walnut Bottom corridor for guidance on land use, marketing and infrastructure improvements in the area.

The corridor recently was affected by the closure of a 117,000-square-foot Kmart department store at Walnut Bottom Towne Center. Much of the area doesn’t provide sidewalks for pedestrian and bicycle accessibility to other neighboring commercial and residential areas, including Carlisle’s historic central business district.

Additionally, the area serves as a primary transportation connector to Interstate 81 at Exit 45 (College Street) and Exit 44 (Allen Road).

“There’s still a lot of land to be built upon there. I hope we can get the right people there and let the people who are interested know about it. I have great hopes for this,” Supervisor Tom Faley said.

Development plan tabled

In other news, township supervisors tabled a proposal on Thursday for a final subdivision and land development plan for the first phase of Morgan’s Crossing at Petersburg Road and Cobblestone Drive.

Lexington Land Development Corp. proposes to build 34 homes in the first of the project’s five phases on 67.02 acres in a residential high-density zone. The total project would take around 10 years to complete, township engineer Brian O’Neill said.

O’Neill said township officials approved preliminary plans for the development several years ago but couldn’t pinpoint exactly when. He did say, however, that the township granted a conditional use for the project in February 2009.

In the interim, the township changed its regulations for sidewalk width from 4 feet to 5 feet to comply with present-day ADA regulations. This, in turn, has created a new headache for developers because current project designs still include 4-feet-wide sidewalks that don’t meet township specifications.

Phil Garland of Lexington Land Development Corp. said he will return on July 25 to further discuss the matter with township supervisors.

The township also has specified that property deeds for the proposed development must state that the site lies in close proximity to a quarry. Faley said future homeowners in the proposed development should be “forewarned” about the quarry in their deeds.

The township has received a number of complaints in recent years from residents in nearby existing homes about weekly blasts at the quarry that reportedly cause loud noises and mild shaking.

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