Caernarvon ponders land sale by New Holland Water Authority

What will become of the 400 plus acres now owned by the New Holland Water Authority? It is for sale and may go to auction to the highest bidder if an acceptable offer is not made.

The Authority has set Aug. 12 as the deadline for offers from the Lancaster County Conservancy. Finding the money is difficult.

The land was taken by the New Holland Water Authority by eminent domain in the 1940s-50s. The New Holland Water Authority no longer uses the reservoir as a source of water. Instead, they use 4 wells and have plans for a fifth along Wallace Road.

All of the land is in East Earl Township. The rumor going around is that the Water Authority wants “as much as they can get” and “they want it now,” according to officials. The land has been divided into five tracts. All the tracts have had some subdivision and contain at least four lots, said Chairman Gary Van Dyke. A tract of 179 acres contains the nine acre reservoir. It is zoned as a watershed conservation area.

Representatives from the Lancaster County Conservancy had told people from the Water Authority that if they decide to sell the approximately 500 acres, the Conservancy would be interested, said Kate Gonick of the Conservancy staff. To date, no price has been placed on the land and Gonick said she does not think the land has been appraised. If all else fails, the land will be auctioned off on Sept. 28.

A formal offer is essential for the conservancy to apply for a matching funds grant from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, but Gonick said Lancaster County can no longer provide matching funds to help in the transaction. She expects the price of the land to be high. She is not aware of any other groups who would be interested in the land.

“We should find out more about what is going on before we decide to do anything,” said Van Dyke. Supervisor Terry Martin agreed. “We are not in a position to lead the charge,” he said. “We should wait it out and let the dust settle.”

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