Two weeks after residents packed a Lancaster Township Planning Commission meeting about a proposed change to Conestoga House & Gardens, the tentative sale of the garden tour and events venue has been called off.
The sales agreement between local real estate agent Dan Berger and the James Hale Steinman Conestoga House Foundation and Steinman family members was recently terminated, Steinman Foundation President and Treasurer Shane Zimmerman told LNP.
“Conestoga House continues 2019 operations as usual while long-term plans for the property are evaluated,” Zimmerman added.
Lancaster Township disclosed on its website Monday that Berger’s application to reconfigure boundaries within the property at 1608 Marietta Ave. had been withdrawn by Berger’s company.
Zimmerman deferred a question on why the tentative agreement ended to Berger, who he said “elected not to proceed” with the sale.
Berger did not respond to multiple calls and messages seeking comment Wednesday and Thursday.
The proposed changes to the Conestoga House property and what they might foreshadow garnered high interest from area residents — 75 of whom filled a planning commission meeting May 22.
An engineer working for Berger refused to discuss any potential plans for the property at the planning meeting.
However, a review letter from a township engineer who had spoken with Berger stated one of the lots was being considered for “future further subdivision and residential development.”
One of the residents at the meeting, Linda Eshleman, was cautiously relieved by the canceled sale.
“I think people are tired of development,” she said in a phone call Thursday. “The Conestoga House is so historic and so beautiful ... it’d be a shame if it went away.”
The 14.8-acre property is assessed at $2.1 million, according to the Lancaster County Property Assessment Office, and zoned for residential use.
The property was purchased by the Steinmans in 1927 and has mostly remained in its present form since 1929.
Nearly 20 years after James Hale Steinman’s death, the property reopened as a summer garden tour house in 1982, according to the Conestoga House website.
The James Hale Steinman Conestoga House Foundation is a private foundation currently funded by The Steinman Foundation, which in turn was funded by the companies that comprise Steinman Communications; those companies include LNP Media Group.