Major development could be headed to Halfmoon Township. Here’s what has to happen first

Part of the Scotia Barrens in Halfmoon Township could be affected by a proposed development plan slated to bring over 2,000 housing units to a 935-acre land tract in the eastern portion of the township.
Part of the Scotia Barrens in Halfmoon Township could be affected by a proposed development plan slated to bring over 2,000 housing units to a 935-acre land tract in the eastern portion of the township. Photo provided

A planned 935-acre development project could bring more than 2,200 homes into Halfmoon Township over the next 35 years.

Halfmoon Township supervisors are poised to vote Thursday on a Development of Regional Impact application to the Centre Region Planning Agency that could usher in heavy development to the area near Gray’s Cemetery in the eastern portion of the township.

The success of the project depends on the approval of a proposal to extend the Centre Regional growth boundary and sewer service area and change township zoning laws to allow for more dense housing development.

Currently, the 935-acre land parcel sits outside the regional growth boundary, and does not have a public water or sewer system. If Halfmoon Township supervisors succeed in getting the RGB expanded, any future development would have water and sewer services maintained by the University Area Joint Authority and the State College Borough Water Authority.

In Halfmoon Township’s DRI application, it cites both the continued expansion of the Gray’s Woods Planned Community in Patton Township and providing “a large tract of land that is reserved for future development to accommodate future growth” as a reason for wanting to expand the RGB.

Residents who offered input in the Halfmoon Township Small Area Plan, which was adopted in June 2018, “have indicated that they want more choice of housing in the Township. This includes a variety of small lots, smaller housing units, and more affordable alternatives to large lot single family homes,” said the DRI application.

Within the small area plan, developer Gray’s Woods Partnership owns 478 acres, Mark Maloney owns 257 acres, Repine owns 63 acres and George Waskob owns 61 acres, according to StateCollege.com.

Halfmoon Township’s zoning laws allow for one dwelling unit per acre of land, which led to the development of mostly large lot single family homes in the township. The newly proposed zoning laws, according to the DRI application, would allow 3.5 dwelling units to be built per acre. An expanded RGB could also bring in some commercial development, the application said.

The Gray’s Woods Planned Community borders Halfmoon Township and the 935-acre tract of land where development is proposed. According to CRPA estimates, under zoning laws allowing 3.5 residences per acre, 1,600 to 2,200 dwelling units could be developed using 50 percent and 65 percent of total land area, respectively.

The land tract proposed for development also borders the Scotia Barrens — one of the largest pitch pine-scrub oak barrens left in the state and a groundwater supplier for Bellefonte’s Big Spring. Six-thousand two-hundred acres of the Barrens is protected as State Gamelands 176, and part of the proposed development land is located in a Biological Diversity Area and Important Bird Area, according to the Centre County Natural Heritage Inventory and the Pennsylvania Audubon.

A representative from the township could not be reached for comment by press time.

Way Fruit Farm in Halfmoon Township put out a call to residents to attend the Board of Supervisors meeting Thursday night at 7 p.m. Jason Coopey, one of the farm’s co-owners, said they sent out the email to inform the public that if they have opinions on the development plan, they should voice them.

“It’s something we felt had a lot of importance to the community,” he said. When the Halfmoon Township supervisors held a town hall meeting on the Small Area Plan in November, Coopey said, the majority of community members who attended were opposed to the development proposal.

“We are not choosing a side, but we strongly believe in community involvement,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday.

If township supervisors approve the draft plan Thursday night, they still need approval from the CRPA, Centre Region Planning Commission and final action from the Centre Region Council of Governments General Forum.

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Sarah Paez covers Centre County communities, government and education for the Centre Daily Times. She studied English and Spanish at Cornell University and grew up outside of Washington, D.C.