State College

‘A symbol of Circleville Farm’: Ferguson Township residents irked by demolition work at old structure

Greenleaf Manor residents were dismayed to see the siding removed last week from a century-old barn near their homes.

They called the sight another disappointment as the Turnberry development rises between Blue Course Drive and Circleville Road.

They alerted township Manager Mark Kunkle, who said developers did not have a demolition permit for the barn. The township stopped the action while Kunkle gathers more information. He said the permit was applied for and issued at 8:10 a.m. Monday and revoked by 8:20 a.m.

Homeowners association President Dave Hill said it’s not necessarily the issue of the barn’s demolition, but that the structure was part of the landscape that was supposed to be maintained as much as possible.

The design guide for the traditional town development zoning district, which includes Turnberry, makes note of protecting “valuable resources located within each site.”

“This is a symbol of Circleville Farm,” Hill said. “Technically, they should try to maintain that, try to keep the flavor of that and integrate it.”

The terms and conditions in the Turnberry master plan say that the barn should be incorporated into the development, but identifies no specific use for it. The terms say that, if the structural integrity of the barn “cannot be assured or obtained through reasonable investment,” it should be torn down.

Kunkle said the township received two structural integrity reports from development group DGKC Properties, in February and December 2012, concluding that the barn could not be restored for habitation, such as a meeting place or offices.

“I’ve asked the principal developer to tell me what the intended use would have been,” Kunkle said.

Once that information is received, Centre Region Code Agency Director Walt Schneider will evaluate the barn to determine if the two reports are accurate.

Keith Cooper, a development partner, said the group has worked with the township to do what is necessary.

“I don’t think I have any comment on that,” he said of the barn issue.

Based on the information he has, Kunkle said it doesn’t appear the barn can be used. Late last year, former planning and zoning director Trisha Lang said, while the Circleville Farm property sat idle, the barn suffered “demolition by neglect” and restoration would be cost prohibitive.

“I don’t think it has historical significance other than it’s an old barn” that has an interesting stone foundation, Kunkle said.

Hill said he thinks residents hoped the barn could be integrated somehow, but that their main issue with Turnberry still is the planned student housing complex, The Heights, scheduled to come online next month.