Officials talk bypass, liquor and growth

PAT FRIDGEN

Local officials attending a joint meeting last week found the session so useful they want to do it more often.

Greencastle borough council, Antrim Township supervisors and the G-A school board met at the middle school cafeteria Oct. 5 to discuss issues of common concern. The last similar meeting was in October 2008, but all agreed to continue the networking every six months.

One item of business was a proposed road, the majority still on paper. A bypass road on a 1965 map showed part of the route through Greencastle running adjacent to I-81 through Tayamentasachta, the school's environmental center.

"You can't take it," said superintendent Dr. C. Gregory Hoover. "We want to make that crystal clear."

No current proposal suggested actually taking possession of the strip of land, used for outdoor activities and by cross-country runners, but Hoover pointed out the district was dedicated to keeping the property. Maps and plans dated later did not show any road on the school farm, with the southwest part of the loop indicated to the west on Grindstone Hill Road.

The rest of the circle, which most representatives found useful as shortcuts for local residents, and to divert traffic due to tie-ups on the interstate, ran through Moss Spring to Walter Avenue to Rosebud and across Route 16. It would connect to a shifted Grant Shook Road and eventually finish up on Nova Drive to Williamsport Pike, thereby offering access to U.S. 11. The opposite corner would connect Route 16 West to Grindstone, with a completed connector road hitting U.S. 11. One part missing was a gap from the southern end of Moss Spring to Route 16. Due to the proximity to exit 5, PennDOT would not allow the road to continue on to Eastern Avenue, said supervisor James Byers.

Antrim administrator Brad Graham said supervisors had made it clear they would not invest money on the balance of the connector road, expecting developers who would benefit from the road to construct it.

Council member Craig Myers asked about small businesses that would set up if the road were in. Supervisor Fred Young III responded that there were plenty of other places in the township to put their companies.

Supervisor Rick Baer stated that if the loop was ever built, residents of Moss Spring Estates and Chadwick Estates could be surprised. Many of the representatives did not think the traffic would be intrusive, as trucks would not likely take side streets through town to get back on the same road at the other end.

Councilman H. Duane Kinzer and Mayor Robert Eberly urged Antrim to finish its Comprehensive Plan with the loop included.

Annexation?

With Antrim a "dry" township, councilman Paul Schemel suggested Greencastle annex the area west of exit 5 to Grindstone Hill Road. That would solve the problem of national restaurant chains and other businesses not settling locally due to the inability to serve liquor.

"The area would then be "wet", he said. "You have nothing to lose on property taxes and we can benefit, as will the school district. I'm not kidding about this."

School board member Arnie Jansen favored Antrim changing its status to allow liquor service for the tax base associated development would provide. He cited Chambersburg. Once popular restaurants came in, hotels followed, as well as other commercial growth.

Supervisor Sam Miller said Greencastle was in a bad spot, halfway between Chambersburg and Hagerstown. Though there were pros and cons to going wet, he didn't want to attract "biker bars."

Several  people noted they and area residents traveled to neighboring towns to enjoy a drink with their meal, money that could have stayed local with the same restaurants present.

Schemel, councilman Charles Eckstine and borough manager Kenneth Womack assured the group that despite the dearth of liquor licenses, there were a number of ways for businesses to get them if Antrim allowed the policy to change.

Young said the procedure was for someone to seek a referendum by submitting a petition to the Franklin County Board of Elections to get the matter on the ballot.

On another topic, Graham said though over 3,000 lots were on submitted development plans in the township, not much was going on as far as active construction, and some plans would likely be withdrawn. Hoover added that at 1.6 children per household, a building boom could mean double enrollment in the district. Each new home typically brought in $4,000 in property taxes, but it cost the school system $16,000 to educate each child.

Graham updated the group on Norfolk Southern's intermodal facility. Residents who had filed complaints with the Public Utilities Commission had withdrawn them, and NS was set to begin work in the spring, six months behind schedule.

Commercial developer Atapco hoped to have its roads paved by Thanksgiving.