Hampden Township residents still fighting Section 8 housing plan - abc27 WHTM

Hampden Township residents still fighting Section 8 housing plan

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Residents in Hampden Court say they are not finished fighting a plan for Section 8 housing in Hampden Township, Cumberland County.

Residents have been fighting the plan for Shepherd's Crossing for several months. Plans call for the 35-unit affordable housing to be built along Lambs Gap Road on the site of an empty parking lot across from Twin Ponds.

The townhouses and apartments would be available to those who make between $27,000 and $50,000 a year.

Commissioners were expected to vote on the issue in late March, but the plan was unexpectedly approved last week.

"The decision to approve the plan could not be based on the type of housing, in this particular case affordable housing," Township Manager Keith Metts said. "That is not a factor that the board of commissioners could consider when rendering a decision to approve or not approve the plan."

Metts explained the timing of the commissioners vote was critical.

"They had to take action and they did so with requiring a number of conditions that the developer would have to comply with," he said. "Had they not taken action to approve the plan last week when they did, the developer could have gone to the county courts and applied for what is called a deemed approval process, which would deem them to develop the property without any of the terms and conditions the commissioners asked them to comply with."

Among the terms and conditions, the builder has agreed to put a fence around the property and install a crosswalk sign on Lambs Gap Road.

Members of the Hampden Court Board attended several commissioner meetings to express their concerns, and were upset the plan was approved. Their development is located behind the build site.

"We do not feel that there is enough space. We think it's going to be very dangerous to have 75 to 100 kids in that location, right next to one of the busiest roads," Hampden Court board member Stefanie Bevenour said. "Plus, the fact that Hampden and Big Hope are already so overcrowded, we do not think the school district will be prepared."

"I do not know what the property value impact will be, I have heard different stories," Hampden Court board member Mark Linenbroker said. "I know the residents that live down there are very much concerned that a subsidized housing development like that will drive down property values."

$8.7 million dollars is being invested into Shepherds Crossing. The builder, Monarch Development, received a $876,0000 loan from Cumberland County through the federal HOME program.

"Shepherd's Crossing will provide an affordable option to people who work at places like Wegman's, Target, area restaurants, and local medical/business offices," said Michael J. Kearney, president & CEO of Monarch Development Group, LLC.

"Monarch has been working hard to be a good neighbor in Hampden Township and has met on several occasions with the township and the community to educate them about affordable workforce housing and our specific development."

Monarch said it hopes to start building next month.

"They continue to say they would like to be a good neighbor. We would like to see them do so," said Bevenour.

"I do not believe that we can stop it, but I think it can be delayed," Linenbroker said. "We will focus on things like how we reduce the footprint and reduce the number of people that will be crammed into that corner. I do not think it's completely over. I will be surprised if they start building in a month."


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