Pennsylvania, December 31, 2009
On December 30, 2009, the
Cumberland Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited (CVTU) acquired an 11.26 acre parcel bordering the Letort Spring Run to preserve public fly-fishing access to the nationally famous trout stream. The 11.26 acre parcel is officially lot #188 of the recently approved “Limestone Creek” residential subdivision, which was created from the 110.43 acre Estate of Ralph Otto placed on the market in 1999. The parcel contains 1/3 mile of Letort streambank frontage, representing approximately 20% of the 1.7 mile “Fly-Fishing Only, Catch and Release” special regulation section of the Upper Letort.

Developers Steve Tiley and Rob Frey purchased the Otto Estate in 2004 and continued to move forward with plans for the Limestone Creek subdivision. In 2005 the developers provided written comments to The Cumberland County Planning Commission, South Middleton Township, the Letort Regional Authority, and CVTU stating that the 11.26 acre lot on the west side of Spring Garden Street was to be used as open space and maintained by the Limestone Creek Home Owners Association solely for the residents of Limestone Creek and their guests. The potential to lose fly-fishing access to this section of the Letort, including the famous “Otto’s Meadow” (a photograph of this area is included in the 1972 revised edition of
A Modern Dry Fly Code by Vincent C. Marinaro) was a distinct reality.

In July 2005, CVTU initiated negotiations with the developers to purchase the 11.26 acre lot for the primary purpose of preserving fly-fishing access, but also to maintain the land as a conservation area and buffer between the Letort and the Limestone Creek development. The negotiations were led by Mike Danko and Fred Bohls, serving on the CVTU Board of Directors, with legal representation by Gregory H. Knight, Esquire, of Knight and Associates, P.C. Assistance was also provided by former CVTU Presidents Tom Baltz, Eric Edstrom, and Jim Hutcheson. In November 2005 CVTU and the developers Steve Tiley and Rob Frey finalized a “Letter of Intent” for CVTU to purchase the lot subject to several stipulations including creation of walking paths for conditional access of the residents of Limestone Creek.

In 2006, CVTU was awarded a grant in the amount of $48,700 from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (DCNR) Community Conservation Partnerships Program (CCPP). The CCPP is a required 50%-50% match grant, whereby DCNR may award up to 50% of the approved fair market value estimate of the property, with a local match requirement in the form of either cash or a land donation value. CVTU has expressed their appreciation to the developers for negotiating a sale price of the parcel of less than 50% of the appraised value, and thus we were able to use the land donation value difference as the non-cash match required by DCNR. Although CVTU was authorized by DCNR to proceed to settlement as of August 2006, it took an additional three years for the developers to receive all required approvals (NPDES, Erosion and Sedimentation Control Plan, Township Land Development approval) before a settlement date and CVTU purchase of the property could be finalized. The final settlement was conducted on December 30, 2009 and the title of the property was conveyed to CVTU.

CVTU would like to recognize the cooperative effort of the developers to design what we believe is an environmentally responsible residential subdivision project. Throughout the entire planning process, CVTU was provided full opportunity to comment on the preliminary subdivision plans, draft “Stormwater BMP Facility Protection and Maintenance Manual” and NPDES permit application, as well as an open invitation to attend all agency and municipal meetings on the project. At full build out, the 104 acre project will result in only 20% impervious surfaces, with 40% for usable pervious open space, and 40% for open space dedicated to stormwater BMPs including 12 infiltration basins, 15 check dams within natural upland vegetated drainage ways, and one vegetated swale. The stormwater BMPs were designed to infiltrate all stormwater runoff generated by the 2 year-24 hour storm event within 72 hours.