Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Donegal, county ideas for land differ
Public park suggestion not in line with district's plan Donegal, county ideas for land differ BY P.J. REILLY, Staff Writer
Lancaster County Planning Commission has recommended Donegal School District scrap its plans to sell a property along Maytown Road in East Donegal Township.
Instead, planners want the district to turn the vacant 4.76-acre tract over to the township for use as a public park.
"The township should work with school district officials to discuss the possibility of reserving all or some of this space for public recreation land so that residents within the Maytown area have ample recreation space for both existing and future residents," senior community planner Randall Heilman wrote in his report on the sale proposal.
But the district is going ahead with plans to sell the land alongside the former Donegal Kindergarten Center, 420 Coffee Goss Road, Donegal's business manager, Amy Swartz, said.
Likewise, East Donegal Township does not intend to seek the land from the district, according to township manager Jeffrey Butler.
"We're not interested in that property," he said.
Donegal School District board members voted in January to sell the former kindergarten center and the former Maytown Elementary School, 105 N. River St.
Both facilities were closed last year.
The district plans to sell the 7.1-acre Maytown property at auction March 18. It has an assessed value of $1.7 million, according to county records.
The district is working with a Realtor to sell the 2.81-acre kindergarten center property and the adjacent, vacant 4.76-acre tract.
The developed tract is assessed at $630,200, while the vacant land is assessed at $94,500, county records indicate.
Under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code, the county planning commission must review proposals any time a school district wants to sell real estate.
The commission's findings are not binding, but rather are offered for consideration by the school district and the municipality where property is being sold.
Heilman reviewed the sale proposal on behalf of the planning commission prior to the commission's Feb. 25 meeting, at which his recommendations were adopted.
Heilman called the Maytown school "a historic resource that dates back to 1860" and said he expects all parties involved to make "every effort to protect this valuable resource."
According to Butler, whoever buys the old school would have to follow East Donegal's strict historic zoning rules before doing anything with it.
"Our goal will be to work with any new owner in maintaining the historic integrity of the structure," he said.
Heilman's report expressed no concern over the school district selling the 2.8-acre kindergarten center property.
But he urged the district to keep the vacant land beside it, which sits along Maytown Road near the Village Square development, and dedicate it as public recreation space or consider transferring the lot to East Donegal Township for use as parkland.
"The property is surrounded by residential development, and the zoning district does allow for a variety of uses that could serve as a benefit to the community, including public parks for recreational purposes," Heilman wrote.
Swartz said last week that Donegal school officials were not aware of the county planning commission's recommendation, and she said the district plans to move forward with selling both pieces of land.
"It's our intention to sell (the properties) without any stipulations," she said.
Butler said the township isn't interested in the land because there's no shortage of park space nearby.
"Village Square has a township park in it, and there is some other recreation area maintained by the development's homeowners association," he said.
Andrew Sagar's home on Ashley Drive backs up to the school district's vacant land. He said he wasn't aware of the county planning commission's idea of preserving the property for recreation, but he said it sounds like a good idea.
"It's hard to be against a park," he said.
"We like the fact that it's open, rather than having buildings on it."