Members of the Valley Green Residents Organization got the win they've been battling for, but they're prepared for what may happen next.
The Newberry Township Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 against Golf Enterprises Inc.'s request - which VGRO opposed - to have the Valley Green golf course zoned as "residential growth" rather than "open space," which would have opened the door for development on the course.
John Elliott, a township resident representing VGRO, said that while the organization is very happy with the decision, it also knows there's a possibility that Golf Enterprises will appeal it to the York County Court of Common Pleas.
"The fact that the (township decision) went in our favor will be helpful for us," he said.
Golf Enterprises, acting on the behalf of McNaughton Homes, which owns the golf course, will have 30 days to appeal the decision after receiving the township's written decision.
Mieke Driscoll, the township's solicitor, said supervisors have until Nov. 11 to send out the document, but won't take that long to do so.
Helen Gemmill, attorney for Golf Enterprises, said the company will wait for the written decision before deciding how to proceed.
"We appreciate the time (the supervisors) have put into this matter," she said.
Elliott said he believes the facts and witnesses presented by VGRO during the four curative amendment hearings - between June and September - will hold up during an appeals process.
Supervisors Maxine Kauffman, Robert Conley, Brandt Cook and Carl Hughes, the board's chairman, all voted in favor of denying Golf Enterprises' curative amendment request.
Ernest Helmick was the lone supervisor who voted against the motion, which was made by Kauffman.
After the meeting, Helmick said he believed previous supervisors "erred" and practiced spot zoning when they made the 2006 decision to rezone the golf course from commercial recreational to open space to protect it from development.
At that time, the township had several areas - including parks and recreational areas - that could have been zoned open space, but only chose to make Valley Green Golf Course the designated space for such zoning, Helmick said. Also, Valley Green was the only private property to receive such zoning, he said.
Helmick said his work as a developer did not influence his decision. He said he mainly does projects in Lancaster County.
Prior to the vote, Helmick told meeting attendees that he received a call last week from Fran McNaughton and people on both sides of the zoning issue. He said the McNaughton Homes owner wanted to know which way the board was leaning and to get Helmick's opinion on the case.
Helmick, the supervisors' vice chairman, said he told McNaughton that he would review all information presented to the board and make the best vote possible.
McNaughton also contacted Carl Hughes, the supervisors' chairman, who voted against Golf Enterprises' request by phone, using its speaker system so the audience could hear him.
Driscoll said she was concerned when she was previously informed of McNaughton's calls, as they are in violation of the state Municipalities Planning Act.
"It is up to the parties (VGRO or Golf Enterprises) involved if they raise this as an issue," she said.
Elliott said that VGRO also was informed of the calls, but did not believe McNaughton's contacts would sway Helmick's nor Hughes' decision.
Kauffman and Cook both said McNaughton and Golf Enterprises had several opportunities over the years to argue against the zoning change and did not.
There had already been an understanding between township officials and course owners to keep Valley Green as an open space prior to the 2006 rezoning, Cook said.
The township does not have the road or bridge structure to handle increased traffic that would come from development, Kauffman said.
Both supervisors said also said they did what they thought was best for the township and its residents.
-Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at firstname.lastname@example.org.