Zoning Allows Hundreds Of Homes: A Builder Plans To Buy Former Gettysburg Country Club, Which Is Zoned Residential, Tim Purdentee, Evening Sun, March 14, 2010
The sale of the Gettysburg Country Club is scheduled to close by the end of the month. While the property is zoned residential, word is still out what the land could be shaped into, but the builder has said it s unlikely to remain a country club. There's still no word on what will become of the once-manicured lawns of the Gettysburg Country Club. But, under current Cumberland Township zoning, the former golf course could become a development of tightly clustered houses.
The site's 120 acres, which saw significant action during the Battle of Gettysburg, are zoned as residential, which would allow up to 3.5 housing units per developable acre. That doesn't mean 420 houses could be built there, zoning officials say, because some of the acreage will be allotted for infrastructure and open-space requirements. Still, rules would allow more than 3.5 units on some acres because of the township's "cluster" zoning provision. The provision allows for a greater density of dwellings in proportion to "open space," which can take the shape of ponds and waterways.
"It's basically condensed housing," said Bill Neagle, a zoning officer with the township. "I know there's a big pond on the back of the property and when you have open space like that it's hard to say how many houses could go up." The sale of the location is expected to be completed on March 30 to Woodhaven Building and Development Inc., and the company's president Martin K.P. Hill has said that it's "very unlikely" the site remain a country club.
Cumberland Township officials are awaiting the release of a development plan by Woodhaven, which would shed light on the number of developable acres and, in turn, potential units. "From our standpoint we don't know a thing until they release a plan," Neagle said. "A whole lot of things go into a plan, like water management and roads. It's all very intense." Even as the deal nears, preservationists say they'd like to see the site - which lies within the boundaries of the national battlefield - avoid development.
As a golf course, the grounds have remained free of development, if not exactly like they were in 1863. But the identity has been enough to satisfy historical societies who were unable to match the asking-price of $2.79 million when the site went to a sheriff's auction in 2008. Earlier that year, Susquehanna Bank foreclosed on the property and, after the auction failed to attract a single bid, the bank claimed ownership.
Katie Lawhon, a spokeswoman for the park, declined comment on the sale, stating that land-acquisition efforts are confidential. Although, she added, "It's a high priority for us to acquire some kind of protection. It's significant to the battle of Gettysburg which literally makes it a national treasure ... our goal is to protect the property." The Civil War Preservation Trust has also expressed interest in the site and spokeswoman Mary Koik commented, "Right now, we're still very interested in the club ... we certainly hate to see residential development of that intensity on any historic land."
The club was added to the Gettysburg National Military Park in 1990 after congressional legislation expanded the park's boundaries. The location was where Confederate commander Gen. James Archer was captured by the famed Iron Brigade on July 1, 1863, a day when more than 1,000 soldiers died on, and nearby, the country-club grounds.
Although the preservation of the land may appear in jeopardy, the foundering economy has raised questions regarding development of the site. "With the economy we're having right now, who's to say they wouldn't leave it a golf course for a while," said Neagle, noting the high cost of construction. "I'm open to leave it a golf course ... I'm a golfer," he added.
Text and Image Source : Evening Sun