ABC 27 Investigation: Lower Paxton moved controversial construction closer to neighbors

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Drive down Locust Lane in Lower Paxton Township and you’ll be greeted by rows of yellow signs protesting the construction of a district judge’s office.

Neighbors say they’re upset for several reasons: no public notification, claims of construction vibrations damaging their homes, a letter from a realtor saying their property values will suffer, lack of privacy from the removal of their tree lines, and doubts about whether the land is even zoned for that kind of construction.

Now, they have one more reason to add to their list: the township moved the project closer to their homes.

ABC 27 dug through public records including meeting minutes, site maps, the land appraisal, and the sales agreement. Those documents show the Dauphin County Industrial Development Authority originally wanted to build the district justice office farther away from neighbors, on land zoned as institutional. However, the project site moved closer to houses, on land zoned as residential.

An email from a Dauphin County spokesperson says the change happened “at the request of Lower Paxton Township.”

“It’s very upsetting,” Karen Hare said as she stood in her backyard bordering the construction site. “To me it’s just another example of how the township didn’t have any consideration for the residents of this neighborhood.”

Hare says the original location proposed for the district justice office would have been more appealing. She believes she and her neighbors would have been able to keep their privacy and their property values wouldn’t be in question. Hare also wonders if the other parts of the project, a baseball field and public works expansion, could have been configured differently.

“Had they let the DJ office on the land where the county wanted it and they would have involved the residents right from the start, maybe we could have worked something out and we would have avoided this whole ordeal,” Hare said.

The sales agreement between the township and Dauphin County IDA says the land is zoned Institutional. Since the project is actually happening on residential land, ABC 27 wanted to know if the sales agreement is affected. Township manager George Wolfe did not return calls.

This all comes on the heels of a state investigation into whether the project has the correct permits.

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