Controversial Lancaster County “Oregon Village” Project Approved On 3-2 Vote

It appears that the Lancaster County area will see a second controversial development come to fruition. Following the newly-approved satellite casino in Morgantown (technically in Berks County, on the edge of Lancaster’s Amish region), the Oregon Village housing development has been approved on a 3-2 vote by the Manheim Township Board of Commissioners.

The development will bring over 500 new residential units to the rural area. It will also include shops, restaurants, and a 120-room hotel. Local residents, including the Amish, fear the changes that the population influx and new traffic will bring. Amish have made public appearances at meetings on the matter, reflecting their concern. From ABC 27 News:

“That’s how concerned they are because they’re saying if this development comes in, where are they going to go? They can’t cross six lanes in their buggies,” Haverstick said.

Two commissioners, Sam Mecum and Thomas O’Brien, agreed with Haverstick. “This project could force the actual fabric of our community, right out of our community,” O’Brien said.

The remaining three, including Kling and Heck, said the community could benefit from the change.

“Increased employment opportunities, a much-needed increase in affordable housing, additional tax revenue,” Heck listed in potential benefits.

“It was approved because it meets all the legal requirements for approval. We followed the law,” Kling said.

Adding to the controversy is the fact that two of the three Manheim Township Commissioners who voted “yes” received campaign funds from the developer.

Earlier this month, I spoke with one Amish friend who lives in the near proximity of the development, and who was personally familiar with the developers. Unsurprisingly, as a farmer and father of nine who uses the roadways for both buggy travel and farm-related uses, he was not excited with the development.

He wasn’t sure why they were so motivated to do this project, transforming an establishment, Oregon Dairy, which had fit into the local landscape for years, into one residents fear will markedly disrupt the character of the area.

ABC 27 News reports on the contentious meeting and vote here, noting that the project has been previously rejected several times:

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    1. Walter Boomsma


      For the Amish fellow who wasn’t sure why they are so motivated, I offer this quote from the article. “Adding to the controversy is the fact that two of the three Manheim Township Commissioners who voted “yes” received campaign funds from the developer.”

      As the saying goes, “Follow the money.”

      Having lived in an area where local politicians got bitten by the casino bug as a wonderful economic development program… good luck. When you look at the potential “benefits,” it would be responsible and smart to look at the drawbacks and side effects to the entire community.

      1. Yea…that part of it looked pretty bad. One woman who speaks publicly in the video tries to make the point at that meeting that even if everything was on the level, it just creates a bad public perception if 2 of the 5 people in charge of making very important and impactful development decisions in a community are taking cash from developers which they then in turn apply to helping themselves stay in power.

        One of the two also tries to shut her down by saying it’s not a political meeting, which I thought was a really bad look (as did the other attendees, evidenced by the vigorous booing after he tried that).

    2. J


      This region in Pennsylvania has some of the best soil in the world. That’s why it should remain as open space/farmland. Not developed and destroyed.

      The people involved in this development, including the property owner, are doing fine financially. So there is no need to push this through.

      Local officials getting campaign donations from the developer is a major conflict of interest. Those officials should be required to recuse themselves from voting. But they did not. No surprise.

      I would not be surprised if the developer paid certain people, promise of work contracts, family members, to help this approval get pushed thru. I have seen this happen in the past to ‘encourage’ business deals to get done.

      The one official who tries to shut the lady down was way to defensive. Sign of guilt on his part.

      The community will now change into ‘just another’ over-developed mass of roads and buildings. What made the area special, that ‘fabric’ of their community, is being pushed out.

      Recently learned the pollution from local developments is working its way into the waterways and damaging the eco-system and drinking water. Not surprised. Not surprised at all.

    3. Dollie deaton

      I agree with you. Sometimes people (developers) will do just about anything. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they were promised work. I live in Jessamine county KY. We went from 10,000 to 50,000 almost over night
      I worked for the local newspaper and wrote many stories about the problems and struggles we went from having this population growth so fast. Sure there is money to be made. Guess who will benefit the most. Certainly not the Amish. They don’t need it.
      Leave them alone. They don’t need what the outside world has to offer. Let them live the way they have been living for a very long time.