LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – The controversial Oregon Village development project squeaked by in Manheim Township on Monday.
Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve a sprawling housing development in the middle of Amish country.
The project has been controversial for a number of reasons like traffic and loss of land but also campaign contributions. Developers and family members donated to the joint campaign of commissioners Al Kling and David Heck earlier this year.
The meeting was packed with people and concerns.
“People are very concerned about the loss of farmland. They’re very concerned about what it’s going to do to local businesses, traffic and especially the Amish,” said Mary Haverstick, a spokesperson for Respect Farmland, a Lancaster County citizen action group.
The Amish have made rare public appearances at meetings to speak against the project and its potential pitfalls.
“That’s how concerned they are because they’re saying if this development comes in, where are they going to go? They can’t cross six lanes in their buggies,” Haverstick said.
Two commissioners, Sam Mecum and Thomas O’Brien, agreed with Haverstick. “This project could force the actual fabric of our community, right out of our community,” O’Brien said.
The remaining three, including Kling and Heck, said the community could benefit from the change.
“Increased employment opportunities, a much-needed increase in affordable housing, additional tax revenue,” Heck listed in potential benefits.
“It was approved because it meets all the legal requirements for approval. We followed the law,” Kling said.
More finalized plans of the project will be presented at the commissioner’s meeting on July 8.