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North end neighbors win battle to keep land residential

November 25, 1998|By JULIE E. GREENE

North End neighbors won a battle against development Tuesday when Hagerstown City Council members voted unanimously not to rezone land in that neighborhood for commercial use.

GEMCO Development wants to rezone 14.5 acres at the northeast corner of Eastern Boulevard and Potomac Avenue that are zoned agriculture.

About 40 neighbors attended a public hearing on Oct. 27 to oppose the rezoning. No private citizens testified in favor of it.

Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein said there was some illogic in saying the land isn't appropriate for commercial use since it is a small parcel next to a large parcel outside city limits that is zoned for commercial use.

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Still, Saum-Wicklein said she voted against rezoning the land to represent her constituents who were "unnerved" by the possibility of commercial development on that corner.

GEMCO has contracted to buy the 14.5 acres as well as about 87 acres to the north outside the city that the company wants to develop for business and residential use, officials said.

Only 2.5 acres on the corner can be developed because the rest is in a flood plain, GEMCO officials said.

Neighbors opposed to the rezoning were concerned that developers had not said what was planned for the corner. They also were worried about the possibility of increased traffic, noise and crime.

The Hagerstown Planning Commission voted in September against recommending the council rezone the land, saying there had not been a significant change in the character of the neighborhood to warrant the rezoning.

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