Residents ... We dont want another Gettysburg

October 10, 1997


Staff Writer

SHARPSBURG - Area residents delivered a clear message to Washington County planners Thursday evening: Don't let Sharpsburg become another Gettysburg, Pa.

"I hate Gettysburg. I hate going to Gettysburg. I hate walking around Gettysburg. I hate the commercialism of Gettysburg," said Pat Holland.

The meeting was another in a series scheduled throughout the county to seek input as county officials revise the Comprehensive Plan, which sets the parameters of development.


Holland and others told the Washington County Planning Commission that they fear plans to make the county into a Civil War tourism center will jeopardize their peaceful, bucolic lifestyle.

Although the commission does not set tourism policy, it does affect development. Residents urged members to steer development away from Sharpsburg.

"The last thing I want to see is Burger Kings and McDonald's. We don't need it," said Sharpsburg resident Charles Marvil.

Bert Iseminger, chairman of the Planning Commission, told residents that the commission wants to direct development in places where infrastructure already exists.

"This is not an area that is targeted for development. There is not water and sewer available," he said. "That's not where we want growth to occur."

But some residents said they are skeptical. Ralph Hammond, a Sharpsburg councilman, said he has seen the county break promises before.

"This county does not have a very good record. It they were a ball team, they would be out of the league," he said. "We don't feel you listen, and we don't feel you care."

Main Street resident Jennifer Silbert said she moved to Sharpsburg for quality of life. While she remains confident the town and immediate areas will maintain a rural character, she warned outside development could have a detrimental effect.

"The impact from development in outside areas without looking at alternative traffic solutions is going to overwhelm the town," she said.

Iseminger said there are a number of things the county can do to slow growth in undesirable areas. He pointed to Frederick County, which imposes impact fees on developers.

"At the very least, they allows developers to help pay their own fair share for schools, roads and water," he said.

Iseminger said the county also has a program to buy development rights from farmers to preserve the land. But he added the county has limited resources.

Sharpsburg Councilwoman Denise Troxell said any efforts to boost Civil War tourism should be geared toward Hagerstown, where officials are clamoring for economic development.

"I would like to see all these people who want to bring tourism into Washington County to bring it to Hagerstown," she said. "Build an old-time Sharpsburg in Hagerstown. Put it down there. I'll visit. I'll spend my money."

The Planning Commission has scheduled six more community meetings this year. The next will be Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Brownsville Church of the Brethren in Pleasant Valley.

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