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Cumberland Township Planning Commission votes against water tower project

The Cumberland Township Planning Commission voted unanimously last evening against a request from the Gettysburg Municipal Authority (GMA) for a zoning change that would have allowed a 170-foot-tall water tower off Fairfield Rd.

The planning commission’s vote is advisory to the township supervisors who will make the final decision.

A standing-room only crowd of about sixty citizens appeared at the hearing with dozens speaking against the project and only one in favor.  The crowd broke out in applause when the decision was announced.

The commission said they had received letters of opposition from national history-oriented groups including the American Battlefield Trust, The National Parks Conservation Association, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Preservation Pennsylvania.

Deputy Superintendent Kristina Heister said the Gettysburg National Military Park and the Eisenhower Park had also weighed in against the proposal.

Gettysburg Foundation President Wayne Motts echoed the same sentiments.

The proposed zoning change would have allowed “essential” structures of up to 175 feet high in the township’s residential zones. The current maximum height is 35 feet.

A letter from the Adams County Office of Planning had previously called the 175- foot height “arbitrary” and cautioned that the township should “prevent any type of essential service from standing out to a large degree from the existing landscape or disturbing the visual integrity of the battlefield landscape.”

Bret Shaffer, an attorney for the Red Oak Lane advocacy group which opposed the tower, introduced an engineer’s report offering an alternative to the proposed elevated tower using a ground storage tank and pumps, and other speakers also explored alternate possibilities.

The advocacy group has collected 87 signatures from Cumberland Township residents who opposed the tower. A second petition at Change.org had 105 signatures.

The township supervisors will consider the proposal at a public hearing at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday July 26 at the Cumberland Township Municipal Building at 1370 Fairfield Road.

Written comments can be sent to the Board of Supervisors at that address.

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  • Pumping stations don’t work when electricity is out. Good luck getting water if your house catches fire, say from a lightning strike, when there’s no power.

    • Hi Steve,

      Susan is a reporter for the Connection. We tried to make the story as objective as we could. Did we fail? If so, please let us know.

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