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Hagerstown City Council briefs for Wednesday, April 28

April 27, 1999

Revolving Loan Fund approved

Hagerstown City Council members unanimously voted Tuesday to establish a revolving loan fund, which will use loans to encourage the retention and expansion of businesses in the city.

The loan program is expected to begin in June, City Public Information Manager Karen Giffin said.

As an example of how the loan could be used, Giffin said a business that obtained a $40,000 loan from a bank but needed $60,000 could use the Revolving Loan Fund to help bridge the gap.

The loan fund is supported by $100,000 in the budget for the current fiscal year. The proposed budget for fiscal 2000, which begins July 1, includes an additional $150,000 for the loan fund.

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City Council members on Tuesday also approved applications for a $250,000 state grant and a $500,000 federal grant, which would be used to bolster the loan fund.

The Revolving Loan Fund will be administered by the City Community Development Department. Loans would be approved by the Hagerstown Redevelopment Authority, the city's loan board for Community Development loans.

In some circumstances, the mayor and City Council will have final approval.

Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein said credit for establishing the fund should go to Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II.

The loan fund was Bruchey's idea and he pushed for its passage, Saum-Wicklein said.

City planners to seek grant for street improvements

Hagerstown Planning Department staff members are applying for a $350,000 state grant, which would be used to make aesthetic improvements to the area along the first block of West Antietam Street.

Planned improvements to the area include widening the alleys behind the Maryland Theatre between West Antietam and West Washington streets so they can accommodate two-way traffic, putting the utility poles in those alleys underground and installing brick crosswalks at the intersection of South Potomac and West Antietam streets.

City Planner Kathy Maher said she expects to find out this summer if the city will be awarded the grant.

If the city receives the grant, design work could begin in the fall and construction probably would begin in July 2000, Maher said.

City Council members unanimously approved the grant application on Tuesday.

Councilman J. Wallace McClure said he wanted additional discussion of what specific improvements would be made if the city is awarded the grant.

 

HotSpot office will move in May

The Hagerstown HotSpot office will move up the street in May.

Carolyn W. Brooks, coordinator of Hagerstown's HotSpot program, said that sometime in May her office will move from its current location at Jonathan Street and North Avenue to the Martin Luther King Center at 131 W. North Ave.

Washington County has offered the office space at the MLK Center at no charge, Brooks said.

Brooks shares her current office, and rent payments for the space, with police and probation officers.

Maryland's HotSpot program provides grant money for crime fighting and community building efforts to high-crime neighborhoods across the state.

Hagerstown's 1998 HotSpot grant award was $110,000.

From that, the city also pays Brooks' contract.

On Tuesday, City Council members voted unanimously to renew Brooks' contract as HotSpot coordinator, which includes a pay increase from $32,000 to $35,000 a year, according to a memo from City Police Chief Dale J. Jones.

Habitat for Humanity annexation request draws no comment

A request from Habitat for Humanity of Washington County that about 3,000 square feet along Wellington Road near Harwood Road be annexed into Hagerstown drew no public comments during a public hearing on Tuesday.

According to documents accompanying an annexation request sent to the city, Habitat is planning to build three or four single-story homes on Wellington Avenue, and a part of the property is outside the city.

The organization has requested that the city annex that portion, which is about 3,090 square feet, so that all the houses will be within the city.

The City Council probably will vote on the request during a May 25 voting session, City Clerk Gann Breichner said.

Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization that builds and renovates homes for needy people.

Communications tower height restrictions OK'd

A law intended to prevent large communications towers and antennas from being erected in residential neighborhoods in Hagerstown was unanimously approved by City Council members on Tuesday.

The law limits the height of such towers in residential areas to 50 feet.

In most commercially zoned areas, the towers are not allowed to be more than 140 feet high.

In areas zoned for industrial use, towers can be up to 199 feet high, under the new law.

The law goes into effect May 28.

Existing communications towers are not affected by the law.

City planners believe the area is underserved by wireless providers and expect requests for more towers eventually will be made.

City to send sidewalk, curb repair letters

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