South Middleton farm may be developed

South Middleton farm may be developed

A Carlisle-area developer submitted a plan Tuesday for 25 single family homes on the Jumper farm off Rockledge Drive in South Middleton Township.

Called Stonehill, this proposed development will go before the planning commission for review on July 19 and could go before the township supervisors as early as August.

Woodstork Watch LLC is seeking conditional use approval to subdivide about 13.4 acres into residential lots just south of the Summerfield development.

Specifically, Woodstork wants permission from the township supervisors to use the growth boundary development option in the township subdivision and land development ordinance.

A rarely used provision, it applies in cases where agricultural land is adjacent to a medium-to-high density residential zoning district, Supervisor Chairman Tom Faley said.

Deed restrictions

The option allows for the development of residential lots on no more than 20 percent of the farm acreage, leaving about 80 percent in perpetual open space or agricultural use.

In the case of the proposed Stonehill development, this amounts to about 53.8 acres that will be subject to restrictive deed covenants.

Woodstork is also seeking conditional use approval to develop Stonehill within a township well head district, Faley added, which restricts development in areas where groundwater resources are vulnerable.

Lastly, the developer would also need a variance from the township restriction that limits the number of homes served by a cul-de-sac to 15 units, Faley said.

Eighteen of the 25 units proposed for Stonehill front a street that extends 750 feet west from Rockledge Drive and ends in a cul-de-sac. That street is proposed to be the main entrance to Stonehill.

Further south on Rockledge Drive will be a driveway leading west through the farm to provide access not only to a new farmhouse but for emergency vehicles in case the main entrance is blocked.

Broader border

Land subdivided under the growth boundary development option must border at least 400 feet of an adjacent residential development. Even though Woodstork meets the requirement, Faley questions why the developer opted not to extend the border down the full length of the development instead of just the mandated 400 feet.

This creates an irregularly shaped tract in which preserved farmland wraps around the northern lots of Stonehill, Faley said. He would rather see Stonehill fully adjacent to Summerfield.

The proposed Stonehill development may create an opportunity for the township to seek an easement from Woodstork to develop a passive recreation walking trail along the perimeter of the farm, Faley said.

"It would address the need," he explained.

That area of the township consists of densely packed subdivisions that are lacking recreation facilities, he said. To enjoy open space, township residents living there have to drive miles to access township parks.

A positive development has been the removal of abandoned vehicles from a portion of the Jumper farm off Rockledge Drive, Faley said. It is believed that in March 2006, sportsmen were using these vehicles for target shooting, when some of the bullets missed their mark and struck two homes in the Summerfield development. No one was hurt.

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