State College

College Township tables farmland development proposal

College Township Council on Thursday voted down the proposed rezoning of the Everhart tract of farmland along University Drive near Assembly of God church.
College Township Council on Thursday voted down the proposed rezoning of the Everhart tract of farmland along University Drive near Assembly of God church. CDT file photo

In a unanimous decision late Thursday night, the Township Council decided to kick the Everhart tract rezoning request back to the Planning Commission.

Council members said they didn’t feel comfortable making a vote to rezone the land after senior planner Mark Holdren said the township Planning Commission had voted 4-3 against the proposal.

Earlier this summer, the council tabled a motion to rezone 63 acres of agricultural land into a development for single-family use.

The tract is south of University Drive near the State College Assembly of God Church. About 7 of the tract’s total 157 acres off Campbell Road are already zoned for single-family residences.

The existing 7 acres of R-1 zoning have the potential to hold 22 to 39 dwellings, Holdren said at a previous meeting. With the proposed 63 acres added and rezoned, that number jumps to between 233 and 398 potential houses with almost 368,000 square feet for nonresidential use, such as for churches or schools.

Jim and John Everhart, brothers who own and farm the land, said they are selling their property because it has recently become financially hard to keep up with business.

But residents in Everhart Village, a community adjacent to the farm, have raised concerns.

Many have said they don’t want to see the land being developed because it would take away their neighborhood privacy and negatively affect the environment.

Ronan Drive resident Virginia Belser spoke to the council about alternatives, including making the land a town-run farm to keep its agricultural presence.

Her goal is to work with the Everharts to take the land off their hands but still keep it farmland.

Council Chairman Eric Bernier said, to do that, the township would have to raise taxes to maintain it as a farm.

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