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July 30, 2014
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Large subdivision approved for dairy farmers; site of former farmland village that never was


Lawrence O’Reilly, a retired dairy farmer from St. Joseph, and his son Thomas, received approval for a large subdivision of 1030 acres in Tyler Hill. Lawrence appeared before the supervisors on April 16, without his son, who is a dairy farmer, and could not attend due to farming duties.

The Damascus supervisors agreed to cut the property into 31 parcels consisting of about 50 acres each.

The property, which cost the O’Reillys $3.8 million, is the
site of a failed plan for a town village that was the dream of Fred Frankel, who bought the property in 2003 and wanted to subdivide it into 500 parcels. He had a plan for a village with retail stores and community centers. He wanted to appeal to New York City people who wanted to live in the country but still have some city amenities.

The village was never built and the people never came. The property was sold at least once before the O’Reillys purchased it.

O’Reilly denied that he and his son had a plan for another development project.

“We don’t know what we want to do with it,” he said. “We’ll have to decide later. You’ll have to talk to my son about the details of the project. He’s the principal purchaser.”

O’Reilly and his son are dairy farmers with a large farm in St. Joseph, with slightly under 100 milking cows.

Also at the meeting, four eighth-graders from the Damascus School sat with the township supervisors at the township meeting in a tradition in the township called “Supervisor for a Day,” which was the creation of Howard Schuchman, a former chairman of the township’s zoning hearing board who died on March 19. Schuchman was lauded for his long service to the township and especially his devotion to the Supervisor-for-a-Day program, which he inaugurated ten years ago.

The four students, Collan Parry, Cris Forelli, Jill Marie Henderson and Hayley Silon spent the morning and afternoon visiting important sites in the township, like the Bedrock Quarry, Calkin’s Creamery, Pro-Jan Company and Boyce Products.
“The Damascus School greatly appreciates this tradition, since the eighth-grade American History and Civics class finds this experience relevant to their studies,” said Pete Casazza, their teacher.

In other board matters, the board approved a resolution to support a change or elimination of the Commonwealth’s Prevailing Wage Act, which many feel adds unnecessary expenses to the township budget. The action against the prevailing wage act is being spearheaded by the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors. The supervisors also enacted a 30-day burning ban, with the stipulation that it would be lifted if it were to rain. The ban includes burn barrel burning. Without precipitation, the ban expires on May 15.