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Borough Buys Building That Dates to 1700s

The Elizabethtown Borough Council has agreed to buy a historic building in the central business district for $357,000.

It was unclear what the borough will use the building at 56 N. Market St. for; no use was specified at the meeting when the vote was taken on Thursday, Feb. 1.

Borough Manager Roni Ryan said in an interview after the meeting that the borough decided to consider purchasing the building because it became available, but its use will be discussed at future public meetings. The borough had previously adopted a plan that called for moving the borough offices to the central business district; Ryan said the borough wants to look at uses of its properties comprehensively and decide where the borough offices and police headquarters will be. Currently, the borough offices and police headquarters are on a single lot at the corner of Hanover and Arch streets.

Ryan said during the meeting that the building is one of the oldest structures, and possibly the oldest, in the town. A real estate website had said the building dates to 1745. In recent history, the building had been the home of the Elizabethtown Insurance Co.

Ryan said the building had been appraised and the agreed price of $357,000 was within 10 percent of the appraised value, as required by law. All council members present voted to approve the purchase; Councilor Phil Clark was absent.

In other business, councilors agreed to remove a stop sign at the corner of Union and Poplar streets; Police Chief Edward M. Cunningham Jr. said he saw no need for it since it would not protect pedestrians crossing the street legally. He noted that the sign only stops traffic in one direction and said there should be stop signs in both directions if any are there at all.

Also, Jacob Olweiler, the developer of the Conoy Crossing housing development, asked for relief from obligations including letters of credit and sought assurance that the borough will accept dedication of Masonic Drive as a public street.

“You guys might not be here. We might have to deal with a whole new set of people,” Olweiler said, explaining why it is important to him to have an assurance in writing that the borough will accept dedication of Masonic Drive when his long-delayed project is complete.

When complete, Masonic Drive is to connect to state Route 743 (Maytown Road), providing an alternate route for traffic on congested Market Street. Olweiler noted that he had paid for a bridge taking Masonic Drive over the Conoy Creek, which he originally expected would cost $250,000 to $350,000, but ended up costing $1 million, and that the borough is saving a lot of money with the infrastructure his project is providing. The connection of Masonic Drive to Route 743 is in West Donegal Township, but most of the project is in Elizabethtown Borough. Councilors took no action on his request.

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