New group pushes for more preservation of rural Lancaster County

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Jan 6, 2017 3:43 PM

(Harrisburg) -- Developers in Lancaster County want to take a third of an acre of protected farmland to make road improvements for a new neighborhood.

That move has spurred a new group - Respect Farmland - to action.

Filmmaker Mary Haverstick is behind the organization, which she says supports development - but in more appropriate places.

She says a proposed 75-acre neighborhood, with more than 560 new housing units, is in the wrong place: rural Lancaster County.

But when developers asked Manheim Township to condemn a part of a preserved farmland so they could make road improvements, Haverstick says she had to act.

"So we're not anti-all growth, but taking swaths of farmland like this, increasing the traffic, overwhelming a small village, and then look what happens to the back roads and the Amish lifestyle," she says.

The developers did offer to preserve additional farmland in another part of the county.

But Haverstick says it's the principle of taking preserved farmland that she's concerned about.

She says businesses should focus on the area just outside Lancaster City and townships that are already more developed, and leave rural areas alone.

She adds: "There are swaths and tracts all around the outskirts of Lancaster City that are just waiting for an innovative developer to come in and make some money from it and create something kind of interesting and beautiful that adds to our area."

She also praises supervisors in East Earl Township, who recently voted to block high-density, walkable communities.

The Respect Farmland group has garnered nearly two hundred members on Facebook.

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