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Mount Joy Township Wants Trees Planted Around Solar Array

Mount Joy Township supervisors reached a consensus that the township should do what is needed to get trees around a solar array on land owned by Elizabethtown College, noting that the plan was approved with the trees as a condition.

The solar array is visible from nearby homes, Supervisor Gerald F. Becker said at the township supervisors meeting on Monday, March 19, adding that neighbors are concerned that the solar panels might reduce property values. Becker said the tallest tree in the area is 3 to 4 feet tall, far too short to obscure the solar panels.

Township Manager Justin Evans said he had a meeting scheduled with M. Caroline Lalvani, the college’s director of community affairs, and would raise the issue with her. Supervisors Chairman David W. Sweigart III said the township could have the trees installed and bill the college if the college does not get the trees planted, but supervisors agreed to try to get the college to comply before doing that.

“I would hope they’ll comply, but they haven’t done too well yet,” Supervisors Vice Chairman Gerald G. Cole said.

On Tuesday, March 20, the college released a written statement from Robert Wallett, vice president for administration and finance, in response. Wallett said the college and the suburban Philadelphia company it partnered with to build the solar array were committed to meeting the obligations laid out in the land development plan approved by the township.

“We have been working with the Mount Joy (Township) staff, neighbors and Mr. Becker over the past few months to ensure that the plantings are in compliance with what we submitted,” Wallett said. “Over the past year and a half we have planted and replaced several trees that have died and not taken root. We are again planning to look at replacing any trees that have died over the winter and will do so early this spring and in the fall, weather permitting.”

In other business at the meeting on Monday, March 19, supervisors unanimously approved a zoning change for land owned by the Elizabethtown Church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, better known as the Alliance Church, to allow the church to expand. Land previously zoned as medium-density residential was rezoned to institutional. Supervisors also approved bids for road projects including work on Prospect Road and Cassell Road.

Also, Evans said the township would measure how often the bridges that carry Mill Road, Prospect Road and Koser Road over the Conewago Creek are used once it is clear that snow is done for the season. Evans said the Prospect Road bridge might be removed; the bridge is about a half-mile from the Bellaire Road bridge, which is on a state highway.

Supervisors noted that Elizabethtown Borough had recently approved a resolution for Weis Markets to sell beer and wine at a supermarket that is right on the border between the borough and Mount Joy Township. Most of the store building is in the borough, but the parking lot is in the township.

“If they’re drunk in the parking lot, that’s our problem,” Cole said.


(This article has been updated with a response from Elizabethtown College.)

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