Commissioners support Groh request

July 15, 1997


Staff Writer

The Washington County Commissioners said Tuesday they want to grant Vincent Groh's wish to keep some of his land along the south side of U.S. 40 east of Clear Spring zoned Highway Interchange 1.

Groh has said that he wants to keep some land in the commercial zone so he can build a small shopping center, but the Washington County Planning Commission had recommended that all of Groh's property be zoned Agricultural as part of a comprehensive interchange rezoning.

The rezoning of Groh's and other property in the area to Agricultural would limit commercial development.

County Commissioner R. Lee Downey said he favored allowing Groh to keep 30 to 35 acres of his property Highway Interchange 1.


"That's probably the best location if there's ever going to be a shopping center there," agreed Commissioner John S. Shank.

The commissioners delayed a final decision on the Clear Spring rezoning, but rezoned properties at the Big Pool/I-70 interchange, the U.S. 40/Interstate 81 interchange, and the I-70/U.S. 522 Interchange in Hancock.

Land at the Big Pool interchange was rezoned from Highway Interchange to Agricultural north of I-70 and from Highway Interchange to Conservation south of the highway.

County Planning Director Robert Arch had urged the commissioners to rezone the whole area Conservation, because of new state smart growth legislation. Arch said if developments are built on the Agricultural-zoned land, the county could wind up having to pay for improvements such as water and sewer without any grants from the state.

Shank and Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook voted against the rezoning. "It seems like we're going from one extreme to the other," Snook said.

"To me this is just another classic example of the government telling a private property owner what they can do," said Shank, a developer. "I don't want the government to tell me what to do. That's why I live in America," he said.

"That's what zoning is all about," said Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers.

Shank said it wasn't fair for developers to buy land zoned for commercial use and then have the zoning changed and its value lowered without compensation.

Commissioner James R. Wade said he agreed with Arch but would go along with allowing the Agricultural designation because he didn't have the votes to change it to Conservation.

A rezoning at the U.S. 40/I-81 Interchange included changing land in the northeast quadrant to Residential Urban and land in the southwest quadrant to Highway Interchange 2 from Highway Interchange. The other land surrounding the interchange, previously zoned Highway Interchange, was rezoned Highway Interchange 1.

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