20 central Pa. farms preserved from development

The Wolf administration announced Thursday that 3,528 additional acres on 40 farms – including 20 in central Pennsylvania – would be protected from development, an investment of more than $9.7 million in state and county dollars to preserve prime farmland.

Also, $735,170 of that will go toward preserving farms on waitlists in six counties. Pennsylvania’s now has 6,044 farms and 611,620 acres of farmland protected in perpetuity from commercial, industrial or residential development.

The state partners with county and sometimes local governments and nonprofits to purchase the development rights from landowners, thus preserving the farms.

“Protecting prime farmland is public policy that works, and a priority we all agree on,” Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said in a release. “It’s a long-lasting, highly effective partnership among state, federal, county and local governments and the farm families who are committed to feeding future generations. Together, we are protecting Pennsylvania’s priceless resources and sustaining our economy.”

The central Pennsylvania farms on the list are:

· Hanover Shoe Farm No. 28, a 213.60-acre internationally recognized horse farm in Conewago Township, Adams County. In 2019, horses bred there produced more earnings for jockeys than any other horse farm in the world.

· The Wayne H. Mummert 111-acre crop farm in Adams County.

· The Doyle O. and Jennifer S. Waybright 124-acre crop farm in Adams County.

· The Andrew W. Brick 164.64-acre crop farm in Southampton Township, Cumberland County, that’s in the process of transitioning to organic production.

· The Darvin L. and Kay L. Halteman 25-acre beef cattle farm in Cumberland County.

· The Thomas P. and Matthew T. Nealy 158-acre dairy farm in Cumberland County.

· The Jean M. Laudenslager 77-acre crop farm in Dauphin County.

· Eileen M. Lesher Farms No. 1 and 2, totaling 245.66 acres in Guilford Township, Franklin County, part of a family-owned, multi-generational dairy operation in a region with highly productive soils and significant development pressures.

· Ricecrest Farms No. 4, a 116-acre dairy farm in Franklin County.

· The Donald W. Witmer 25-acre crop farm in Lancaster County.

· Generation Three Farm LLC No. 1, a 53-acre crop farm in Lancaster County.

· Generation Three Farm LLC No. 2, a 38-acre crop farm in Lancaster County.

· The Nelson and Eva Martin 151-acre dairy farm in Lebanon County.

· The Matthew D. and Louise H. Nolt 92-acre crop farm in Lebanon County.

· Dual Valley Overlook Farm LLC, a 59-acre crop farm in York County.

· Isaac F. and Lydia S. Esh Farm No. 1, a 60-acre poultry farm in York County.

· The John P. and Tina L. Hausner 52-acre crop and beef cattle farm in York County.

· Thomas L. and Kathy A. Hunt Farm No. 1, a 48-acre crop farm in York County.

· Andrew R. and Deborah E. Macklin Farm No. 1, a 72-acre crop farm in York County.

· Douglas E. and Martha J. Rohrer Farm No. 1, a 126-acre crop farm in York County.

Members 1st Federal Credit Union completes move to Hampden Township 

Members 1st leadership celebrates the credit union’s new headquarters in Hampden Township on April 5th. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Members 1st Federal Credit Union opened its new 185,000-square-foot headquarters in Hampden Township on Tuesday. 

The new move marks a change in location for the Cumberland County-based credit union, which previously resided in the Mechanicsburg headquarters it built in 1997. 

In Mechanicsburg, Members 1st employees were spread out across four separate buildings in the city’s Rossmoyne Business Center.  

As part of the move, the company has sold two of the four buildings and plans to sell the remaining two. The new headquarters allows the company to house its 500 administrative associates in one facility, said George Nahodil, president and CEO of Members 1st. 

“Several years ago, we began making plans for a new headquarters to improve efficiencies,” said Nahodil. “I am so thankful for and proud of our associates who stepped up and brought this vision to life, all while continuing to deliver unparalleled experiences to our member-owners.” 

The new Hampden Township headquarters features a focus on natural light with 73,000 square feet of glass throughout the interior. The building also features a community room, collaborative workspace, an associate café, a walking trail nearby and an associate fitness center. 

Alpha Consulting Engineers of York County completed the civil site design, East Lampeter Township’s Greenfield Architects oversaw the building’s design and Mowery Construction in Silver Spring Township served as the credit union’s construction partner.  

“All of us at Mowery were thrilled to have worked with Members 1st Federal Credit Union as the construction manager on this amazing project,” said David Cross, owner and CEO of Mowery. “The building is not only a testament to a world-class organization but also a living example of how to conduct business. I attribute much of the success of this project to the cultural alignment that exists between our two organizations and the entire project team.” 

Members 1st has more than half a million members and over $6 billion in assets. The company was founded in 1950. 

Carlisle renters get more bang for the buck

Carlisle apartment dwellers get more room for their money than other urban renters in Pennsylvania, according to RentCafe.

The apartment search website and research blog reported that, for the state’s average rent of $1,500 in 36 cities, Carlisle offers the most space – 1,303 square feet.

Monroeville and Lebanon came in second and third, at 1,199 and 1,186 square feet, respectively.

Also making the top 10 were Harrisburg, 1,155 square feet; Lancaster, 1,119 square feet; and York, 1,106 square feet.

For $1,500 a month, renters in the state get the least amount of square feet in Philadelphia (679), Wynnewood (690) and King of Prussia (716).

The average for the state as a whole is 869 square feet, which is 4% more space for the same price than in the 100 most populous U.S. cities, RentCafe noted.

Harrisburg-area home prices rise by double digits in February 

With inventory still in short supply in the Harrisburg-area housing market, median sold prices in February jumped by double digits from the year before. 

Prices were up 16.7% – to $270,800 – in Cumberland County; 14.9% – to $193,550 – in Dauphin County; and 22.6% – to $189,900 – in Perry County. 

A little bit more inventory is arriving, but it’s not lasting long, said Sylvia Hess, 2022 president of the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors. 

What the market is experiencing isn’t a new listings issue but an active listings issue, she explained. 

In the current environment, agents might wait just a few days before lowering a list price if offers aren’t forthcoming, Hess said, where before that would have taken weeks. 

In some areas, pickings are very slim in certain price ranges. For example, as of March 16, there were just four single-family detached homes listed under $400,000 in Cumberland Valley School District, she said. 

“There’s still a lot of buyer frustration,” Hess said, and now interest rates are creeping up as well. 

As has been the case for a while, some purchasers are willing to forgo home inspections and other contingencies in order to get their offers accepted. 

Real estate agents wouldn’t counsel buyers to take that risk but that’s the reality of today’s market, Hess said. 

Ease of transaction is what sellers are looking for, she said, including purchases that can be made in cash rather than with a mortgage. 

Here is more data from the February report: 

  • In Cumberland County, closed sales were 196, the same number as a year ago. The average sold to original list price ratio was 100.5%, or just above asking price.
  • Closed sales in Dauphin County were 233, down from 236 in February 2021. The average sold to OLP ratio was 98.2%.
  • In Perry County, closed sales totaled 20, one fewer than the year before, and the average sold to OLP ratio was 94.7%.


Remote workers less likely to be burdened by housing costs, says study 

Workers employed in remote-friendly occupations are much less likely to struggle with housing affordability than those who aren’t, according to a new report. 

“The Remote Work Divide in Housing Cost Struggles,” from Apartment List, examines how the remote work revolution draws attention to this economic disparity. 

The report features national data as well as smaller, metropolitan breakdowns, including the Harrisburg region, a combined statistical area encompassing Cumberland, Dauphin, Perry, Lebanon, Adams and York counties. 

In that six-county area, 10% of workers in remote-friendly occupations live in cost-burdened households (spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs), compared with 19% of those whose jobs must be performed onsite. 

The situation is even more dire for renters as opposed to homeowners. Among renters, the cost burden rate is 35% for onsite workers and 19% for remote-friendly workers. 

There are also major disparities by race even among those in remote-friendly jobs. In the Harrisburg region among that category, 36% of Black employees and 8% of Hispanic workers are cost-burdened, compared with just 9% of white employees. 

The report, based mainly on the pre-pandemic Census Bureau 2019 American Community Survey, was supplemented by an analysis of pandemic-era trends from other sources, including Apartment List’s rent growth estimates. 

“Right now, we are seeing historic price growth in both the rental and for-sale housing markets, leaving millions of families priced out, but even before the recent spikes there was a housing affordability crisis across the U.S.,” the report said. 

“The pandemic has spurred a remote work revolution, which is quickly altering the relationship between where Americans’ jobs are located and where they choose to live.” 

Housing situation drives wealth inequality 

Apartment List estimated that approximately a third of the U.S. workforce is employed in jobs that can be performed remotely. (Occupations are classified based on whether or not they’re compatible with remote work, regardless of whether the individual in the job was doing so remotely at the time of data collection.) 

The list of remote-friendly occupations includes software developers, accountants and office clerks, for example; among onsite occupations are retail salespeople, food service workers and construction workers. 

Nationally, 22.2% of employed adults who work in jobs that must be done onsite live in cost-burdened households, compared with 15.8% of those working in remote-friendly occupations, the report noted. So onsite workers are 41% more likely to be burdened by their housing costs. At the severely cost-burdened level, the chasm widens to 70%. 

The median worker in a remote-friendly job earns $59,000 a year, 64% more than the $36,000 median for onsite workers. However, the median monthly housing costs of remote-friendly workers is just 24% greater than that of onsite workers – $1,540 versus $1,242. As a result, workers in onsite occupations are significantly more likely to live in cost-burdened households than their remote-friendly counterparts. 

Onsite employees are also less likely to own homes. Nationwide, 35.8% of employed adults in onsite occupations live in renter households, compared with 29.2% of those in remote-friendly occupations. 

“Housing situation is a big driver of wealth inequality,” said Rob Warnock, senior research associate at Apartment List. 

The ability to work a remote job contributes to that. Because the job is “untethered from where they live,” it provides the opportunity to find a lower-cost living situation, he said. 

That’s a luxury an onsite worker doesn’t have, Warnock said, as proximity to work has to be considered in any housing search. 


IDEA Coffee opens second location in Cumberland County  

IDEA Coffee officially opened its second storefront Feb. 12, joining other businesses in the commercial district at Arcona, a Charter Homes & Neighborhoods community in Lower Allen Township. 

The new shop is at 1430 Market House Lane in the Crossroads at Arcona, next to Amore Pizza and SpringGate Vineyard & Brewery. 

IDEA Coffee, established in 2018, also has a location in Charter Homes’ Walden neighborhood in Silver Spring Township. It serves handcrafted food and beverages, including locally roasted Lonely Monk Coffee. 

“Coffeehouses throughout history have always been about local community and the sharing of ideas, so it just made sense for us to work with Charter and establish our shops in Walden and Arcona,” IDEA Coffee’s owner, Josh Willits, said in a release. “We feel right at home working alongside other dynamic local businesses and serving our neighbors, who feel like family.” 

Four midstate agriculture businesses awarded grant funding

Four businesses in central Pennsylvania are receiving grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of a larger, $32 million investment in rural Pennsylvania.

The goal is to “keep resources and wealth right at home through job training, business expansion and technical assistance,” a release stated.

The following projects were awarded Value Added Producer Grants:

· Destiny Dairy Bar in Cumberland County, $250,000 to be utilized for processing, marketing and packaging pasteurized A2-cow bottled milk, flavored milk, flavored high-protein milk, cheese curds, yogurt and ice cream. The business is owned by Amy Brickner, a third-generation dairy farmer.

· A&R Nissley Inc. in Lancaster County, $250,000 to go toward processing, packaging and marketing activities related to producing canned wine, called “Kiss Cans,” from its harvested grapes.

· Omar Beiler in Lancaster County, $250,000 to support Beiler’s Heritage Acres, an Amish dairy farm. The grant will aid the farm’s transition from selling manufacturing grade milk to locally produced Grade-A milk.

And receiving a Rural Community Development Grant was Keystone Development Center Inc. in Lancaster County. The $200,000 will be used to sustain communities, economies and resources through cooperatively owned businesses in rural Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland.

Bergey’s Truck Centers acquires Cumberland Truck

Cumberland Truck has been acquired by Souderton-based Bergey’s Truck Centers, a transaction that includes truck centers in Carlisle and Ephrata and a service, tire and parts center in Harrisburg.

Those three centers are among Cumberland’s five truck centers and eight HD truck parts and industrial supply stores in Pennsylvania and Maryland that are now under the Bergey’s umbrella.

Commercial truck sales, leasing, rental, service, parts, industrial supplies and commercial tire services will be provided across the 13 new locations.

The Carlisle and Ephrata branches add full-service Volvo dealerships to the Bergey’s portfolio.

“Our goal is to build on Cumberland Truck’s history of success by learning from each other and leveraging our combined resources, including our industry experts, to offer more commercial solutions to our customers,” CEO Mark Bergey said in a release.

This acquisition expands Bergey’s Truck footprint to 24 locations: 15 truck centers, eight truck parts locations and an HD parts warehouse. The company also operates six commercial tire centers and 10 automotive dealerships.

UPMC buys Cumberland County building for $45 million

a 170,000-square-foot Class A office building in Cumberland County. PHOTO/PROVIDED

UPMC has purchased a 170,000-square-foot Class A office building in Cumberland County, across the street from the West Shore Hospital campus.

The $45 million paid, reported by biznewsPA, represented the largest sales transaction in the history of Landmark Commercial Realty/TCN, which represented the buyer.

At 2020 Technology Parkway in Cumberland Technology Park, Hampden Township, the property will be an outpatient medical office complex for UPMC, a release noted, providing access to new health care services to the West Shore submarket.

It was the former home of the Patriot News/PennLive newsroom before its relocation in 2010 and is presently the regional headquarters for Novitas Solutions.

Landmark Commercial Realty/TCN’s Michael Curran, president and executive managing director, and Jason Grace, CEO and managing principal, negotiated on behalf of UPMC.

Harrisburg home prices continued to rise in December 

In a refrain that’s become a broken record, home sales prices rose last month in the Harrisburg region, as it’s still very much a seller’s market. 

Sylvia Hess, president of the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors, wrote in a document she prepared on 2022 real estate trends that prices are expected to continue climbing this year, though at a slower pace. 

Compared with the year before, median sales prices in December went up 4.5% in Cumberland County ($244,820 to $255,000), 11.1% in Dauphin County ($185,000 to $205,550) and 5.9% in Perry County ($179,900 to $190,500). 

In 2021, prices jumped 9.6% in Cumberland and nearly 14% in Dauphin, Hess noted. 

Statewide, that number was 14%, the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors just reported. 

Hess said national housing forecasters are projecting 2022 price increases of anywhere from 3 to 7%, with the average at about 5 to 5.5%. 

Locally, she estimated price growth would be in the 5 to 7% range. 

Mortgage rates are also expected to rise, causing affordability concerns. This means “people who were able to qualify last year may not be able to purchase that very home they were qualified to buy when rates were lower,” Hess wrote. 

In 2022, inventory should improve a bit, she said. Combined with some lessening of demand due to the higher mortgage rates, that could result in less “intense” competition. Instead of 10 or more offers, for example, a listing might get two to three offers, Hess explained. 

As of December, however, houses were still selling fast. In Cumberland County, the average days on market was 21, compared with 49 two years ago. The average days on market in Dauphin County was 19, compared with 43 in December 2019. 

Hess said her major worry is how the elevated cost of lumber and other materials is pricing some people out of the market for new construction. 

Also, 80% of closed sales last year in Cumberland and Dauphin were purchased with cash or conventional financing, which is historically high, she said. Because many first-time buyers need help with closing costs or qualify for loan programs that allow for a low-down payment, their offers are often turned down by sellers in this market, Hess added. 

And if these entry-level buyers can’t find a house they can afford because there’s inadequate supply, “we’ll see many more renters, allowing homeowners’ wealth to continue to grow while renters will see accelerating rents,” she wrote. 

That, in turn, makes it even harder for them to save money to purchase a house, Hess explained, so the dream of homeownership is deferred even more. 

Harrisburg home sales begin to cool, sellers’ market remains 

Home sales in the Harrisburg region cooled a bit in September, but activity remains strong. 

“Relatively speaking, in the big picture, it’s still a sellers’ market,” said Adrian Smith, president of the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors. 

September settlements totaled 783 in Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry counties, 10 fewer than a year ago. Last month’s figure is also 10.3% less than the 877 houses sold in August 2021. 

Smith said he’s not sure how much of the slowdown is due to buyer fatigue and how much is a reflection of low inventory. “It’s a mix of both.” 

In Cumberland, the median sold price for September was $255,000, up 12.7% from a year ago at this time but 3.8% less than the month prior. 

This pattern is repeated for the other two counties. Dauphin recorded a median sold price of $205,000 in September, 15.2% more than in September 2020 and 5.1% less than in August 2021. 

In Perry, the September 2021 median sold price of $217,450 is 20.8% more than the year before and 5.5% lower than the month before. 

The average days on market measurement shows that most inventory is moving quickly. For September, that number was 17 in Cumberland County, 21 in Dauphin County and 31 in Perry County (with its small sample size). 

A year ago, those figures were 29, 29 and 57, respectively. 

And the average sold to original-list-price ratio in September was at least 100% in the three counties, meaning many houses continue to fetch more than the asking price. 

Smith said the busiest segment of the market is homes priced at $300,000 and above. That category in September outpaced the previous two years. 

However, there’s not much available in the lower price ranges. 

Smith said he has seen first-time buyers lose out on homes they wanted because of offers that were $20,000 above the asking price. 

Snyder County civil engineering firm opens midstate office in Cumberland County 


Justin Ross and Andrew Barton founded Selinsgrove, Snyder County-based civil engineering firm LIVIC in 2017.

Snyder County-based civil engineering firm LIVIC Civil Engineering opened an office in Wormleysburg, Cumberland County office this month, the company’s first brick-and-mortar location in the region. 

LIVIC specializes in transportation and commercial, land development and municipal engineering. It was founded in Selinsgrove in 2017 by Justin Ross and Andrew Barton. 

The Wormleysburg office joins LIVIC’s Selinsgrove and Bloomsburg locations. 

The firm announced in January that it would open its third office in the midstate, hiring Doug Gamber and Kevin Burke to lead the office. 

Gamber is the firm’s new regional director and a site development and landscape architect for 35 years. He previously worked at midstate engineering firms Navarro & Wright Consulting Engineers, and Raudenbush Engineering. 

Burke shaped traffic and transportation-focused studies and projects across the state, according to a company statement. 

LIVIC has statewide and national clients. In the Harrisburg market, the firm will pursue jobs for institutional clients such as the state departments of Environmental Protection, and Transportation.