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Halfmoon Township Plans for Future Development

by and on November 18, 2017 5:00 AM

HALFMOON TOWNSHIP — Supervisors in Halfmoon Township will soon have to make a decision whether to accept a plan that would allow for denser development in an eastern section of the municipality.

Just opposite the border of the 903 acres under consideration in Halfmoon is the Gray’s Woods development in Patton Township and the very end of the regional growth boundary set by the Council of Governments. This is where public sewer from the University Area Joint Authority stops, as well as planned neighborhoods, and the geography turns to cornfields and more scattered developments on larger lots with septic systems.

On Nov. 8, the public had a chance to view the current status of a “small area plan” from COG’s planning agency that outlined proposed density on certain lots within the plan’s boundaries. Currently, the plan gives a general outline of possible roads within the parcels and some restrictions on development.

Gray’s Woods is the dominant landowner within the small area plan, with 478 acres, followed by Mark Maloney, with 257; Repine, with 63; and George Waskob, with 61.

None of the parcels within the small area plan are enrolled in the township’s Act 153 Open Space Preservation program, where the township purchases development rights for set amounts of time from properties in order to keep them from being developed. Currently, there are 28 property owners enrolled over 2,005 acres spread throughout the township. The majority of these areas protected from development are scattered along the northwestern border with Worth and Taylor townships and the far southwestern corner. 
There also are state game lands that occupy a huge chunk of the southeastern part of the township.

Next for the township will be the digestion of public comments from the Nov. 8 meeting. Susan Steele, township manager, said a vote on the plan likely will not be scheduled until sometime next year. The planning commission and small area plan steering committee will have to give input as well.

Steele said if the small area plan is approved, zoning changes will be considered as landowners submit plans to the township. She said no plans have been brought before the supervisors or planning commission. The land within the small area plan is currently zoned agricultural, with a small slice of industrial.

This Centre Region Planning Agency map shows the small area plan in Halfmoon Township. In the center with the dark outline is the area under consideration and the dotted white line is the border with Patton Township. Across the border the current regional growth boundary is outlined.

After an approval of the plan, the township would have to apply to have the regional growth boundary extended and five of the six participating COG municipalities will have to vote in agreement for it to move forward.

That will be a requirement, as public sewer access needs to be extended in order for development to happen at all.

Cory Miller, UAJA director, said the addition of this much acreage is uncommon, with the last addition onto the UAJA infrastructure being 40 acres in 2005 when the Act 537 plan was revised.

UAJA does have the organic and hydraulic capacity to deal with extra sewage from development within the boundaries of the small area plan, but they would need to find a way to offset or reduce the amount of nitrogen being discharged. They’re also working on a nutrient management plan to help with that goal.

Miller said because of Halfmoon Township’s agricultural character, there may be ways to find nitrogen offset credits for discharges into the Chesapeake Bay.

As of now, Miller said the UAJA is acting as an adviser and answering questions about the extension of sewer lines to the area. He said it is the position of UAJA that a new addition such as this would be revenue neutral for them, so as not to put any additional burden on the longtime customers in the service area.

New connections to the UAJA lines will cost a minimum of $5,008 through the capacity component tapping fee. UAJA also charges fees for passing through other infrastructure investments such as pump stations. According to the small area plan, the UAJA has on the docket the installation of a pump station and force main in Patton Township in the next three to five years.

Jim May, Centre Region Planning Agency director, said this was a long-range plan for the township and his office does not anticipate immediate development if the plan should go through. He said a lot of people have had questions about how quickly projects there would happen. He added that Halfmoon Township typically sees between 10 and 20 dwelling units added per year.

A number of other smaller details will have to be considered if development were to happen in the small area plan.

There is currently no public roads through the study area, but planners and the steering committee so far have stipulated they do not want to encourage regional traffic to pass through the area. Public vehicle access is anticipated to be provided by a connection to Gray’s Woods Boulevard in the southeast and Route 550 to the north, according to the current draft of the plan. Future decisions will also have to be made after traffic studies. Overall, though, the plan calls for connections to be “locally convenient, but regionally inconvenient.”

The plan calls for the retention of the rural character of the township and suggests imposition of height restrictions of 45 feet, parking not being visible from Route 550 and including compatible agricultural uses for residents through small-scale farming.

Multiple housing types are suggested in the development area, including single-family homes, townhomes, duplexes and quadruplexes, condominiums and apartments, and mixed-use buildings.

This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

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