Huntingdon County Planning Commission reviews Gilliland’s planned residential subdivisions

Alterations made to two planned residential subdivisions in Warriors Mark Township by developer John Gilliland have not impressed the Huntingdon County Planning Commission.
Last week, the board agreed to forward similar comments to township officials as they did earlier in the year regarding the same housing projects, along with some correspondence to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
Gilliland is hoping to get the go-ahead to begin construction on several residential developments on farm land he has owned for years, however, the former farmer has faced opposition from local residents and the DEP due to some illegal sewage dumping which occurred on portions of his property in the 1990s. The very layout of the subdivisions he’s now submitted for review a second time, which are both located along Dry Hollow Road, raised eyebrows at the planning commission meeting.
“We’ve reviewed these before,” explained planning commission director Richard Stahl. “Not much has changed and we’re basically sending the same comment letter we sent earlier in the year, with two exceptions.
“Mr. Gilliland still has not addressed the township’s open space ordinance which calls for 50 percent of agricultural land to be set aside,” he continued. “He did assign street names within the development. We’ve checked those and there is no problem with name duplication.”
The second change to the plans for the proposed developments, named Gillbrook Farms Phase I and II, deals with stormwater management. In earlier proposals, Gilliland noted that construction of a housing development on these two sites would not create an increase in stormwater runoff, therefore he did not submit application for the proper National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits. The planning commission disputed Gilliland’s view that runoff would not increase.
This time around, a thorough stormwater runoff plan is shown, complete with collection ponds. Also, an NPDES permit application has been submitted.
“We’re encouraged to see this change,” Stahl noted. “However, we are concerned, with the close proximity of these lots and the lack of open space, about possible ground water contamination.”
Several board members felt that since the lots — over 70 in all — are so close together, there is very little room to safely drill individual wells for water and to install separate septic systems for each lot. In addition, the board members noted that they weren’t really sure whether these subdivisions were on land targeted by the DEP in the illegal dumping investigation.
“I think what we should do is go ahead and forward our comments to the township, noting our concerns regarding possible groundwater contamination,” Stahl said. “We can also make a recommendation that a geological survey be conducted, due to the high number of lots, keeping in mind that agricultural land generally percs well.
“Our notes are always carbon-copied to the DEP, so I would think if there is an issue with either of these subdivisions dealing with the investigation of Mr. Gilliland’s properties, then the DEP will pick up on that and respond to our comments.”