Thursday, April 26, 2007

GettysBLOG: The Lunacy continues in Cumberland Township

The dog and pony show once known as the Cumberland Township Supervisors meetings continued Tuesday night with another irregularly scheduled meeting. This time, instead of the farce over amending zoning to permit a water park, it was holding off a developer because plans do not include allowance for future airport expansion.

The Gettysburg Airport is located along US Route 30 just west of the Battlefield, but still in Cumberland Township. Our rocket scientist supervisors put a hold on plans by Adams County’s favorite green space destroyers, S&A Homes. S&A wants to put a development of over 300 homes in the area surrounding the airport. But the representatives of the regional transportation group that owns the airport testified last night that future expansion would preclude the construction of several houses due to runway extensions, and of course, building so close to the airport always raises the issue of noise complaints. S&A is quite upset at the delay.

We, of course, dance with glee over it.

Perhaps someone should rent some ground for a billboard right outside this housing project that would warn potential buyers of the plans for airport expansion, and noise problems that will only increase as time goes on.

What this tells us is that even the process to ease the way for the rampant development of central Adams County that has been put into place by the local political party organizations, is itself totally out of control. While the airport is in Cumberland Township, its use is, or at least should be, governed by the Adams County Transit Authority.

What’s that you say? There is no Adams County Transit Authority? Oh, yes there is. They run a shuttle bus system in and around Gettysburg. They have a small fleet of white half-buses. So you are correct, there really is no “county transit authority” per se. If the Gettysburg Airport [a commercial enterprise] is providing passenger and cargo service, even on a walk-in basis, there needs to be local governmental control.

If there is to be growth in the county, and the powers that be have so determined, despite what you or I may think, then the airport needs to come under the County’s authority. It would then be the arbiter of disputes like the one that has arisen between the airport’s owners and S&A.

The three ring circus put on by the Cumberland Township Supervisors last week [over the proposed water park] and this [over the airport expansion issue] is symptomatic of the total breakdown of local government in Adams County.

First, and foremost, the county and local governments are in the process of destroying the very fabric of the county. By allowing the runaway development of Cumberland, Straban, Mount Joy, Butler, Freedom, and Highland townships, one of the two major attractions in the county will be strangled to death. We refer to the Gettysburg National Military Park. No, the park will not be destroyed, but it will be forever altered, shorn of its historic physical context, squeezed by the encroachment of housing, business and industry, and choked to the point that no one will be able to drive through it. No, in ten years if you want to visit the park, you must catch a shuttle at the Visitors’ Center, or down town, and tour by bus. Individual tours by the famous and peerless Licensed Battlefield Guides will be a thing of the past.

There is no “second”.

There are already signs of the great miscalculation by Adams County government, and local governments, and the major developers in the area. One of the two new restaurants out at Bob Monahan’s Gateway Gettysburg Convention Center [the one illegally displaying the Great Seal of the United States for commercial purposes] can’t open because they cannot hire enough employees to work the place!

Our over-zealous Adams County Economic Development Corporation has sold the county to far too many developers, and for no good or valid reason other than profit making. Adams County does not need economic growth. We have an unemployment rate among the lowest in the nation, tax rates that are lower that the national average, and average family income higher than the national average. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a fantastic economic situation.

But these clowns, these bozos who sit officiously in their elected offices as county and local governments, are doing everything in their power to ruin that economic stasis from which Adams County has been benefiting for decades. The ACEDC lures developers in with images of low land prices, low taxes, a great local economy, and enormous tracts of land to develop among the many farms that make Adams one of the top agricultural producers in the Commonwealth. So the developers come in waving their money around at the farmers, and the next thing you know property values go up for everyone. Good for the owners if they are selling or refinancing, bad for their taxes, and bad for buyers. And for everyone, the first signs of instability in the local economy.

Who are they? Empire Homes from Maryland, the ubiquitous S&A Homes, Dave Sites, and of course, Bob Monahan. Oh there are others, but these are the principal murderers of Adams County’s economy. They are aided and abetted by the local township supervisor boards, and the Adams County Commissioners.

This is no effort to bring growth and progress to Adams County [such would be against the best interests of the county.] There is no effort to provide humanitarian relief for those in need of housing.

This effort is purely, and completely greed driven.

And it is totally misplaced, unwarranted, and undeserved. Those mentioned in the above paragraph are well aware of what they are doing to Adams County, and its impact long term. In our book, that makes them greedy and guilty as Hell.

The result? From New Oxford to South Mountain, and from the tiny village of Mason Dixon to York Springs, an unending stretch of tract housing and shopping malls, far too many of which will be empty at any time, housing and business structures alike, starving the economy even more.

Gone the tourists.

Gone the low taxes.

Gone the low cost of housing and real estate.

Gone the low cost of living.

Gone the high wages and salaries.

Gone the small businesses.

Gone the large local restaurants.

Gone, the gorgeous orchards between Biglerville and South Mountain.

Gone the farms, large and small that made Adams the second top agricultural producing county in Pennsylvania.

Gone the green space, the idyllic, bucolic setting that is the context for the great Battlefield.

Gone the clean, fresh, country air that blows so coolly down from South Mountain.

Gone, almost all of the history, and anyone’s ability to touch it.

Gone forever.

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