With the proposed development of the Terrace Mountain Lodge and Hawn’s Bridge Marina in the preliminary stages, discussions have spurred some misconceptions.
The land for the proposed Terrace Mountain Lodge, on a 440-acre site in Union Township, is currently owned by Rod Roberts of Austin, Texas, who is affiliated with Lancer Resources. He purchased the land from Gladfelter Paper Co. in 2011, which owned it prior to the development of Raystown Lake.
The southern end of the property owned by Roberts is on a 400-acre section of land in Cass Township that is proposed for recreational activities.
Additionally, he also wants to seek a partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop land below the proposed resort site in Juniata Township for a marina, tentatively titled Hawn’s Bridge Marina.
Amy Wise, executive director for Huntingdon County Business & Industry (HCBI), wants to clear up some misconceptions ahead of the public presentation scheduled for noon Thursday, March 24, at the Trough Creek Valley Fire Hall in Cassville.
One of the first misconceptions involves the land being listed in the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory (PNDI), where people can search for potential impacts to endangered, special concern species and special concern resources in the state.
“Before you do a development project, you have to do a PNDI search on a parcel, and it will tell you if there are any hits for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state Fish and Boat Commission,” said Wise. “It won’t tell you there are species that will be impacted (by development), but it tells you that you have to seek more information if there’s a hit.”
The PNDI also includes hits for the state Game Commission as well as the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Wise also noted there are shale barrens on both sides of the lake in the PNDI, but on the eastern side of the lake, where the project is being proposed, there’s no concern for impact to wildlife, unlike the western side of the like.
“The shale barrens on the eastern side don’t produce the same type of habitat as the western side,” said Wise. “Oddly enough, the concern is near areas that are already developed.”
Wise also addressed concerns that the proposed lodge location will become an “eye sore.”
“The parcel will not be seen from the proposed site of the marina,” said Wise.
Wise wants people to understand the proposed project is still very much in the infant stage, therefore, a lot has to be done to find out if the project is even feasible.
“This project is so early,” said Wise. “There are all kinds of studies that have to be accomplished. The developer (Rod Roberts) in no way wants to negatively impact the land.
Camilla Hardee of Hardee Partners LLC of Texas spoke with The Daily News about Roberts’ proposal last October. She recently spoke with Wise about the project.
“She told me specifically ‘We do not want an eyesore. It’s counterproductive for tourism, which is the only economic driver for growth in that area,’” said Wise.
Wise also said Hardee has worked with other resorts to ensure wildlife habitats, including the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa in Austin, Texas.
“She worked with the Audubon Society and Texas Wildlife Management to ensure bird habitats on that property,” said Wise, adding this proposed development should fit with the terrain and topography of the area.
“This should serve as an enhancement,” said Wise. “There’s a lot of concern coming from assumptions and misinformation.”
Wise also noted Roberts is a shale developer, but he wants to clear up a misconception that he’s using this property as a means of drilling for Marcellus Shale.
“Drilling as a whole has tanked in the state,” said Wise. “The shale plates in the county are close to the surface, and they are not low hanging fruit. The test well has been capped in Todd Township since the end of 2013, and they haven’t done anything since.”
Roberts, along with Hardee, will be in attendance at the presentation Thursday, where Wise said they will share in three parts.
“The first part will be with the developer talking about his vision,” said Wise. “The second part will be a presentation from Hardee about the economic development potential, and there will also be a landscape architect talking about what the process will look like.
Wise said Roberts will be in Huntingdon County for three days, and she plans on using that time for him to meet with as many local leaders as possible.
“He’s going to be meeting with township officials, the county commissioners, representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, county planning director Mark Colussy and a lot more,” said Wise. “His schedule is packed the entire time he’s here.”
Roberts will also be attending and presenting at the annual meeting of the Huntingdon County Planning Commission Wednesday, March 23, at the Huntingdon Country Club.
“I encourage people to come and listen with an open mind to what is being planned and what isn’t being planned,” said Wise.
She also understands the time of the presentation Thursday won’t be opportune for some, but there will be more chances for people to attend public presentations in the future.
“There will be plenty of opportunities moving forward,” said Wise. “We’re planning a series of public meetings in the future. Right now, this is the only opportunity in the three-day window Roberts will be in town.”
Kylie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.