Cumberland Times-News

February 18, 2013

Residents still fighting against development

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — Eight years after the potential Terrapin Run development first became a flashpoint in the community, citizens opposed to the housing development continue a fight they say will both preserve the environment and protect a valuable economic asset to Allegany County.

“In reality, Terrapin Run is driving this particular issue in Allegany County,” said Champ Zumbrun.

Zumbrun and other citizens made their comments during Monday’s hearing on Senate Bill 236 tier maps at the Allegany County office building. The tiers pertain to limits on septic systems based on a variety of factors, including the size of the development.

Zumbrun pointed to the growth of recreational tourism in the eastern part of Allegany County. “It’s become an international destination,” because of the Great Allegheny Passage trail, Zumbrun said, citing the late Bill Schoenadel, who said visitors to Bill’s Place in the past few years increasingly included international visitors.

“It’s about sustaining what we’ve restored in the past 100 years,” Zumbrun said of forested areas. Rural land conserved from development is “not a liability, but an asset,” Zumbrun said. “It’s probably the best opportunity for economic growth.”

Jackie Sams presented a letter to county commissioners signed by herself and 49 others opposing plans to develop the Terrapin Run project, which was originally designed to build 4,300 homes on 935 acres of land.

“For eight years, we have attended meetings, written letters and testified on the undesirability of developing this large tract of land into a large-scale housing development,” Sams and the others wrote. The letter raised concerns about the proximity of the proposed development to state forest land, farms and low-density housing.

The letter also said that “necessary infrastructure neither exists nor is planned to support such a development.”

Signatories to the letter presented by Sams were also concerned about the 9 a.m. Monday meeting time.

“We would have attended this hearing but were unable to participate in a meeting taking place during work time on a work day. In the future, we request that you hold any hearings and other public meetings pertaining to Terrapin Run in a setting and at a time that would permit more people to attend,” the letter said.

Lee Osmansky added his voice in opposition to Terrapin Run.

“Plans are seldom complete and correct when they are first developed,” Osmansky said. The development would be a drain on the county, requiring extensive infrastructure, including sewers and schools, he said.

No citizens spoke in favor of the development.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at