More development sought along Wesel Blvd.

May 23, 1998


Staff Writer

CSX Real Property wants 14.3 acres along Wesel Boulevard rezoned from residential to commercial use, a move that could help spur further growth in the area.

The fast-paced growth along the boulevard stalled after Lowe's announced plans for a 160,000-square-foot superstore in July 1995. The store finally opened in January 1997.

All of the commercially zoned property has been developed, leaving only about 21 acres zoned residential and 120 acres zoned industrial, officials said.


CSX Real Property Director Kevin Hurley said CSX doesn't have a specific customer interested in the property slated for rezoning. The firm is trying to prepare it for the next wave of commercial development.

Hurley and Debbie Everhart, Hagerstown's economic development coordinator, said they believe rezoning 14.3 acres of the residentially-zoned area on the south side of the road could spur more commercial growth. The 14.3 acres are east of Nationwide Insurance.

The Hagerstown Planning Commission will hear the rezoning request at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the Council Chambers on the second floor of City Hall.

Even if the land is rezoned, there are obstacles to getting much of the CSX-owned property developed, especially the industrial area further to the east.

Sewer lines need to be added and water pressure increased, officials said.

A 200,000-gallon, 80-foot water tower costing at least $250,000 would be needed for an industrial user, said Dave Shindle, the city's water department engineer.

Access is another issue.

Any industrial business with heavy tractor-trailer traffic would have to deal with several stop lights on Wesel Boulevard to reach Interstate 81, Everhart said.

It would be costly to build another road from Wesel to get to the interstate because a bridge would be needed to cross several railroad tracks, officials said.

CSX also has environmental hurdles to clear.

Any trees cut down for development must be replaced according to the Forest Conservation Act.

Some of the industrial land near Burhans Boulevard is still being treated for contamination by creosote, an oily tar-like substance that isn't a threat to the public, said Maryland Department of the Environment spokesman Quentin Banks.

Hurley said CSX isn't asking to have the remaining residential acres rezoned yet because CSX officials don't want to give up on the possibility of housing.

Several residential developers couldn't make the site work since the property is next to land zoned for commercial and industrial use.

Hurley said he'll also hold off for now on asking the city to rezone the 170 industrial acres for commercial use.

CSX is competing for industry with the nearby Hopewell Road area, which already has utilities available without the traffic congestion, Hurley said.

CSX puts the industrial land's value at $35,000 an acre, but the commercial acreage is substantially higher, Hurley said. The land is in an enterprise zone, which means businesses qualify for tax breaks.

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