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Hagerstown, county squabble over zoning change

June 03, 1999|By DAN KULIN and SCOTT BUTKIs

Washington County and Hagerstown City officials are at odds over which government would have jurisdiction over a requested zoning change if the former Fox Deceived plantation is annexed into the city.

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The proposed zoning change, which accompanies an annexation request, would clear the way for a 230-unit residential development on 36.7 acres along Mount Aetna Road near the edge of Hagerstown.

The property is zoned for agricultural use in the county. The requested city zoning is residential.

On Tuesday, the County Commissioners voted 4-0 against the proposed change in zoning. County Attorney Richard Douglas said the commissioners could legally oppose the proposed zoning change because they found it is "substantially different" from the land use listed in the County Master Plan.

At that time, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said the vote did not stop the annexation process but did block a zoning change.

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On Thursday, after consulting with a city attorney, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said that if the city annexes the property then the City Council will have the final say on whether the requested zoning complies with the county's master plan.

"We can go ahead and make the determination," Zimmerman said.

The City Planning Commission is expected to discuss the requested annexation and zoning change during its June 9 meeting.

The Planning Commission typically issues a recommendation and opinion on whether the requests comply with established zoning plans. It was not know whether the commissioners will make a recommendation during that meeting.

City Council members are expected to discuss the annexation and zoning requests during a July work session.

A June 1 public hearing on the matter drew an estimated 200 people to City Hall. Most of those people seemed to oppose the requests.

Residents expressed fear the development would hurt their neighborhood by greatly increasing traffic, creating additional flooding problems and putting a strain on the public schools.

After the hearing, City Councilmen Lewis C. Metzner and J. Wallace McClure said they would oppose the requests; Councilman William M. Breichner said he probably would approve the requests; and Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein and Councilman Alfred W. Boyer did not say whether they were for or against the requests.

The annexation and zoning requests were submitted to the city from Triad Properties, which will sell the property to a group headed by Hagerstown developer Wes Churchey if the requests are approved.

Development plans call for 230 housing units in brick quads, triples and duplexes to be built on the 36.7 acres between Mount Aetna Road and the Brightwood Acres, Londontowne and Fairway Meadows subdivisions.

The development would have tree-lined streets and walking paths and each housing unit would have a two-car garage in the back. The average price for each unit would be about $175,000, Churchey said during the public hearing.

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