After winery win in Hellam, couple to develop $1.9M Shrewsbury Twp. estate

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
This Shrewsbury Township property at 17595 Susquehanna Trail South could be the future site of a recreational club and special event center. Outdoor recreation would be limited to the fenced-in area surrounding the house.

After a long-fought battle to open a winery in Hellam Township, Bill and Wendy Hewitt of Springettsbury Township are shifting their focus to a property in southern York County.

The Hewitts plan to turn 17595 Susquehanna Trail South in Shrewsbury Township into an indoor-outdoor recreation club and private event center for retreats, special occasion dinners, concerts and themed parties, among other uses.

"We’re trying to be able to utilize the house, but at the same point in time, maintain the agriculture on the remaining acreage," Bill Hewitt said.

The 63-acre property has a total assessed value of $1.9 million and includes a 17,000-square-foot house, according to county property records and real estate listings.

All recreational activities would be held in and around the house.

A local farmer leases and farms 49 acres on the property, Hewitt said, adding that he plans to continue the lease agreement with that farmer.

The property is in an agricultural zone, so the township's Zoning Hearing Board must grant a special exception for a recreational lodge before the Hewitts can proceed.

The Zoning Hearing Board will decide on the exception at a meeting Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020.

Other projects: Hewitt said the outcome of the Jan. 23 meeting will determine the future of the winery and event center in Hellam Township.

Along with the winery and vineyard, the Hewitts have plans in the works to build a carriage house to host weddings and other special events at 4865 Libhart Mill Road.

But if they get the OK to open a recreational lodge in Shrewsbury Township, Bill Hewitt said, they might postpone the carriage house plans in Hellam Township and focus instead on the winery and vineyard.

"The Hellam property will have more renovations that are going to be needed than the Shrewsbury property," he said.

Hewitt said his priority in Hellam Township will be planting the grapes and getting the winery up and running by May 2021. It will be called Lavender Acres Winery.

"Then we’ll reevaluate whether we’re going to build the carriage house, which will come at a later date," he said.

More:Divided board in Hellam Twp. OKs controversial winery

More:Noise, history reasons to spike proposed Hellam winery, opponents say

Once the Libhart Mill Road land development plan is approved, Hewitt said, he'll have five years to begin building.

The Hellam Township Board of Supervisors approved Hewitt's conditional use application for a winery and wedding venue in a rural agricultural zone in November, but only after a two-year legal battle with neighbors who said the venue would destroy the area's historical value and that the associated noise and traffic would be detrimental to the neighborhood.

Thomas Lang, the attorney for the Libhart Mill Road neighbors and a Libhart Mill Road resident himself, said immediately following the November meeting that he planned to appeal the board's decision.

As of Tuesday, Dec. 30, Lang had not filed an appeal. He could not be reached for comment.

The Crist family farm is shown in Hellam Township, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. Potential buyers Bill and Wendy Hewitt hope to turn the property into a vineyard, winery and wedding venue. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Recreational lodge: The Zoning Hearing Board in Shrewsbury Township heard testimony and deliberated Monday, Dec. 23, about the application for a special exception to open a recreational lodge, but the board tabled the vote until January, said township manager Todd A. Zeigler.

The Shrewsbury Township Board of Supervisors hasn't taken a position on the application, Zeigler said, and barring an appeal, the Zoning Hearing Board will have the final say.

Hewitt said the board had questions about the impact on the property's agricultural land.

There are two horse pastures covering 8 acres, and the Hewitts would need to turn about three-quarters of an acre of pastureland into a parking lot to accommodate guests.

A portion of the remaining horse pastures would be used to plant crops such as grapes or lavender, Hewitt said, but a few acres would be kept for horses.

If the exception is approved, the Hewitts will call the property Lavender Acres Estates.

More:Hellam's 2-year winery battle nears closing act

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new information about development plans for a winery and wedding venue in Hellam Township.