State College

Ferguson Township facing lawsuit over Toll Brothers development plan

The Nittany Valley Water Coalition filed a lawsuit against the Ferguson Township Supervisors, seeking to overturn the decision to approve the Toll Brothers development plan.
The Nittany Valley Water Coalition filed a lawsuit against the Ferguson Township Supervisors, seeking to overturn the decision to approve the Toll Brothers development plan. Centre Daily Times, file

Ferguson Township Supervisors are facing a lawsuit regarding their approval of the Cottages at State College development plan, according to a news release by a group calling itself the Nittany Valley Water Coalition.

The coalition is a group of “15 plaintiff families” that “includes community homeowners and farmers working together to stop this destructive development project,” the release said. The suit was filed Tuesday and seeks to overturn the supervisors’ decision to approve the Cottages plan.

Supervisors approved the development plan on Nov. 16 following extended comments by township residents condemning the plan and asking supervisors to delay the decision. Residents claim the potential for stormwater runoff could contaminate the nearby Harter-Thomas wellfields and the drinking water supplied by those wells.

The coalition is being represented by Jordan Yeager and Paul Cohen, of Curtin & Heefner LLC, the release said, the same firm that fought against the Columbia Gas pipeline in State College. The suit is funded through CommunityWise legal defense fund, which is supported by residents’ donations.

The first phase of litigation will likely return the plan to the new Board of Supervisors for a new vote in 2016, the release said.

Three new supervisors will be taking seats on the board in January and were elected “in response to widespread public opposition to this development and the supervisors who supported the plan,” the release said.

“We fully expect the Toll Brothers and Penn State to fight back, but we are prepared to stand together,” the release said, adding that the development puts water safety at risk by building on top of the wellhead protection areas.

Municipal officials also seek to develop more than 500 acres of university-owned land in the Slab Cabin Run watershed, the release said.

“It is crucial for residents to stay engaged,” the release said, “drive the Toll Brothers development back into the R-4 zone and continue the fight to protect farmland and water supplies by strengthening the growth boundaries around the whole COG region.”

Ferguson Township Manager Mark Kunkle said he could not make a comment on the release as he had not yet seen the complaint.

Jeremy Hartley: 814-231-4616, @JJHartleyNews

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