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Townhouse residents want city services or tax break

March 03, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Residents of North Gate Townehomes in Hagerstown want the city either to begin plowing snow and collecting trash in their community or give them a tax rebate equal to the amount they are paying to have those services performed privately, Julie Donat, president of the North Gate community association, told City Council members Tuesday.

The request sparked a discussion among council members about requirements for new developments.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said the situation in North Gate exists because the developer put in cul-de-sacs that don't meet city street standards.

The residents do not have their trash picked up or all their streets plowed because the city considers the cul-de-sac they live on to be a private driveway.

Because of liability issues, the city does not allow its trash removal and snow removal contractors to go onto private driveways.

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City officials said the situation exists in several other developments in Hagerstown.

Metzner said the practice might save money for the developer and the buyer, but it causes problems later.

"Our constituents and residents are being bamboozled by developers," Metzner said.

Metzner said the city should pass a law to put more restrictions on development to prevent similar situations.

"We need minimum standards," he said.

Councilman William M. Breichner said he has raised concerns about such development plans in the past.

Breichner said City Council members this summer will begin discussions about a law to address the matter.

Meanwhile in North Gate, residents have the perception that they are paying property taxes for services they don't receive, Donat said.

There are 157 households in the community that surrounds Lindsay Lane and is west of North Hagerstown High School, Donat said.

Through an annual community association fee those residents pay trash and snow removal costs, which together average about $19,000 a year, Donat said.

Through city taxes, those residents pay a share of the costs of snow removal and trash removal for the rest of the city, Donat said.

However, the city is not charging them for the disposal of city trash, known as a tipping fee, which is a separate charge on residents' water bills, Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said.

City residents are charged about $45 a year for the tipping fee.

Councilman J. Wallace McClure asked city staff to "see if there should be a concession made."

Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein wanted to know if community residents' association fees would decrease if the city picked up the services.

No action was taken Tuesday on the request from the North Gate residents.

Before any decision is made the matter probably will be discussed during another council work session in the spring or summer, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said.

To help explain the situation to the rest of the North Gate residents, City Engineer Bruce Johnston agreed to attend an upcoming North Gate community association meeting.

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