Sunday, June 8, 2008

School Lane Hills Neighborhood Association Formed

About 50 attendees attended a meeting on Sunday evening and elected five members to a Board of Directors of the newly formed School Lane Hills Neighborhood Association. Bob Desmarais who called the meeting and who serves on the Lancaster Township Planning Board was elected chair. Also joining the Board are Ms. Wynne Kinder, Mrs. Sharon Cody, Tom Sponaugle, Jeff Ross, and Larry Gessler.

Membership is limited to owner-occupied single family homes in Lancaster Township, Manheim Township, and the City of Lancaster bounded by the south side of Harrisburg Pike, the west side of President Avenue, the north side of Columbia Avenue, and the west side of Jackson Drive and River Drive. Desmarais said there were approximately 685 residences within the zone: 18 in the City, 85 in Manheim township, and the balance in Lancaster township.

The organization meeting was the result of several "living room" gatherings over the past year by interested parties and the desire of the founders that there by a neighborhood association with legal standing.

The agenda included three issues of particular concern:

1) The proposed Crossing Shopping Center fronting on Harrisburg Pike adjoining Toys 'R' Us and across from Longs Park,

2) The future development of Franklin & Marshall's Baker Field.

3) Proposed relocation of the Norfolk and Southern rail freight yard.

The concern about the Crossings largely had to do with the fear that the project would generate much traffic for Farmingdale Road. It was pointed out that it was more likely that the project would be oriented towards Good Drive, since it was designed as a collector road.

Desmarais advised the audience that John Fry had given assurances that F & M would resist any efforts by Manheim Township to link development on Baker's Field with the School Lane Hill's development and, if necessary, F & M would withdraw its proposal rather than make Wilson Drive a through road. A female member noted that John Fry would likely only be at F & M another two or three years.

A good portion of the hour and a half meeting was taken up with a presentation by Sarah Ann Fisher setting forth the concerns of The Rail Road Action & Advisory Committee (TRRAAC) which are comprehensively listed at .

Fisher said there had been an exciting idea in recent days for the relocation of the freight yard to a location that would allow F & M's development to the north and yet not create as many problems for School Lane Hills. Since the idea has yet to be explored with the parties, NewsLanc will refrain from commenting upon it.

F & M has arranged for a community meeting on June 19th to address environmental issues, a gathering that may fulfill a legal requirements for proceeding with the project. It was reported that F & M gave official notice to the public with a tiny ad of a few lines in the automobile section of the newspapers! Upon the matter being brought to his attention, Fry promised that F & M would notify the community of the June 19th meeting via the mail.

Desmarais said that F & M President John Fry does not like confrontational meetings so the audience will move from post to post to learn more about the project. In this manner, discussions are avoided between residents as a group and the college representatives.

Desmarais stressed on several occasions his conviction matters can best be addressed with Fry through low key discussions and stated that the Association has no desire for litigation. Earlier in the meeting he had summarily rejected a suggestion from a member of the audience that dues be raised from the $20 per year per household so as to fund the engagement of an attorney to advise the Association.