Love the Land in Hellam Township: Why We Do Not Support the Proposed Development of Our Neighboring Property

image courtesy of Mark Loucks

If you know our history, you will know how we feel about the proposal to develop our neighboring property into a Love’s Truck Stop.

The Horn Farm Center is a conservation success story. Born out of a successful community effort to save the farm from industrial development, the Horn Farm Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, was founded 18 years ago. Our local community understood that our natural spaces and cultural practices of stewarding and cultivating the land are sacred and need to be preserved. This belief, passionately enacted, saved the 186 acre farm.

Fast forward 15 years, and the Horn Farm Center is a thriving destination for outdoor learning and reconnection that serves more than 2,000 visitors and program participants from around our region each year. With a commitment to regenerative land stewardship, the Horn Farm Center has invested over $300,000 of public and private funds to restore the health of our soils and protect our local waterways, mainly the Kreutz Creek. In the past three years, staff and hundreds of volunteers have planted over 17,000 trees, which established 12 acres of native riparian habitat and protect over 2,000 lineal feet of waterways on our property. Our work continues with plans to actively restore 70 acres of woodland and productively reforest over 35 acres of farmland. 

Beyond serving our community, combating climate change, and creating a refuge for native wildlife, at the Horn Farm Center we do our part to meet Pennsylvania’s mandate (through the Chesapeake Bay Agreement) to reduce sediment loads in the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay. 

Our vision for Hellam Township is one where we approach land use thoughtfully and base decisions upon the long-term health, well-being, and prosperity of our community. We are fortunate to have increasingly rare and beautiful, resource-rich natural lands and open space along the Route 30 corridor. More and more, people are drawn to Hellam Township for recreation precisely because of this precious rural atmosphere, and the community continues to build opportunities for visitors: the Lancaster Conservancy is in the process of opening up hundreds of acres of recently conserved natural lands to light recreational uses in the Hellam Hills and Wizard Ranch; the Susquehanna National Heritage Area is developing the Mifflin House property at Wrightsville into a regional heritage welcome center; and the Horn Farm Center is transforming county-owned land into a bio-regional destination for transformative experiences, ecological learning, and skill-building. We envision increased related business growth opportunities associated with such projects, as eco and heritage tourists opt to spend their dollars here. Likewise, surrounding property values can only benefit from these creative land uses that leave a light footprint on the landscape and offer a long-term net benefit to the community.

The proposed truck stop at the Kreutz Creek interchange stands in stark contrast to this vision and presents a number negative impacts:

2018 Flooding of Kreutz Creek, WPMT FOX43 facebook page, courtesy of Ryan Wallen

  • A 2020 Army Corps of Engineers Study identifies Kruetz Creek Tributary E as a flood hazard, with a 25-year flood event being the most frequent flood event that may cause damages to buildings. Surrounding this floodplain with 30+ acres of impervious surface is likely to exacerbate existing flooding and stormwater management issues. 
  • Trucking facilities where fuel is stored and dispensed, or where engine maintenance is performed, can pose a significant threat to nearby wells and groundwaters, streams, wetlands, ponds and lakes.One study found that contaminant levels in gas station runoff were 5- to 30-times higher when compared to residential runoff.
  • The use of highly-effective stormwater Best Management Practices to treat fuel facility runoff before it is infiltrated into the soil may resolve the threat, but only if a government agency regularly inspects these practices to ensure they are well maintained and independent reviews show a high degree of compliance.
  • Kreutz Creek Tributary E flows downstream into a section of Kreutz Creek that supports the natural reproduction of trout. Any asphalt proposed as part of the project will most certainly cause increased water temperatures downstream, potentially impacting the trout.
  • The trucking commerce that will profit Love’s will produce the unwanted byproduct of noise and air pollution, as well as increased traffic, adversely affecting the quality of life for surrounding residents – human and non-human alike. 
  • Commercial development of our neighboring farmland property conflicts with the Horn Farm Center’s efforts to preserve and protect farmland in Hellam Township through its conservation easement with the York Farm & Natural Lands Trust.
  • Heavy truck traffic lowers property value at a rate 150 times greater than cars.
  • Truck stops have been linked to concerns about crime increasing as well as sex trafficking, which is not only concerning for the neighborhood, but also for the visitors of all ages to the Horn Farm Center.

For these reasons listed above, the Horn Farm Center does not support the development of 4974 Lees Lane (Parcel#: 31-000-KK-0040.00-00000) for the purposes of a truck stop.


Horn Farm Center Board of Directors

Image: Joshua Bowling/The Republic

Image: CESO/Love’s Site Zoning Plan

Photojournalist Drew Szala – Rt. 30 at Kreutz Creek Rd. – Sept. 2018