Manheim Township Board of Commissioners race sees a lot of interest, money being spent

Lancaster

LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — Lester Oberholtzer’s Manheim Township farm has been in his family for generations.

They’re Mennonites — so Oberholtzer didn’t want to show his face on camera.

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“This is the best farmland in the world. Not just in this country, in the world. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever,” Oberholtzer, a Manheim Township farmer, said.

He’s seen the transformation of this area from rich farmland to urban development, and he shares the concern of many in the township.

“We just want to be sure we’re protecting character of our township and that any future development is really what people think it should be,” Carol Gifford, Democratic incumbent for Manheim Township Commissioner, said.

Growth– specifically, how to manage it– is the biggest issue in tomorrow’s election. Manheim Township voters will decide whether Democrats keep control of the Board of Commissioners, or return to Republican hands.

“I don’t think anyone is looking to get rid of the existing farmland. We want to protect it. In the past, it’s always been a priority. The question is the areas that are currently planned that have been zoned a certain way for development. Is that the zoning what we want to keep?” John Bear, a Republican candidate for Manheim Township Commissioner, said.

Democrats and Republicans have more in common than they might like to admit. Both want to repurpose existing buildings–and agree that reworking a 2010 development plan is the way forward. They essentially want to start with a clean slate.

“Many people have come before us and haven’t done anything. They campaign on it, don’t change the planning, don’t change the laws, and nothing happens,” Bear added.

While Democrats say the board had decades to make good on their promises.

“They had their time to correct it and nothing has happened. Instead what we see are new homes popping up all over and commercial development,” Gifford said.

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