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Edenmoor development could have new life, owner

There could be a light at the end of the very long tunnel Edenmoor residents say they have been living in.

The Lancaster County Forfeited Land Commission has reviewed two bids for the Edenmoor property and chosen Citizens Homes/Reilly Properties as the company they would like to see continue the work started at the stalled development in 2008.

The Forfeited Land Commission received the property after the developers, Lawson's Bend LLC, let the community fall into foreclosure. Liens were placed on the property in early 2009, and taxes on the property went unpaid throughout 2009.

The property went to tax sale late that same year. At the tax sale, no buyers made bids for the property, and it fell under the charge of the Forfeited Land Commission. The commission is made up of the county auditor, treasurer and register of deeds who are charged with selling the property to pay off the tax debt.

According to state law, the commission had to wait one year after the tax sale to sell the property to give the original owner a chance to reclaim the property by paying all taxes and penalties.

The commission received interest from two companies, Citizens Homes/Reilly Properties and LStar. County attorney Mike Eye is drawing up a contract between the county and Citizens Homes, said John Lane, head of the Forfeited Land Commission, though he declined to say why Citizens Homes/Reilly Properties was chosen over LStar.

The contract will be the start of negotiations between the county and the company, Lane said. The details of the Citizen Homes/Reilly Properties bid were part of a closed-door meeting and have not been disclosed.

Edenmoor was planned to have more than 1,500 homes, a 60-acre county park, ball fields and an EMS station. The EMS station, ball fields and some homes were built, but when the economy took a downturn, development at Edenmoor came to a halt.

When construction halted, so did maintenance on most of the property. Erosion around the vacant property and potholes on the streets became everyday facts of life for Edenmoor residents.

In 2009, the county condemned the portion of Edenmoor that included the county park and EMS station. Officials are in the process of making repairs.

Ernie Holmes was the second resident of Edenmoor. He hopes the potential deal with Citizens Homes means good news for the residents of Edenmoor's 68 homes.

"We expect it to be. It doesn't sound like an LLC formed for this operation, which is what we were concerned about," Holmes said.

Lancaster County Manager Steve Willis said Citizens Homes would be expected to honor the original Planned Development District agreement for Edenmoor unless it petitions the County Council to make changes.

Edenmoor homeowners have few of the amenities that were offered when they purchased their homes. Holmes hopes Citizens Homes will revitalize the property and build the parks and amenities center that the residents have been waiting for since 2008.

"I want them to fix the erosion, join up with the homeowners and help us to pay for our amenities," Holmes said.