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Commissioners postpone rezoning bid

June 09, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

A Wednesday night Hagerstown Planning Commission discussion of a requested annexation and rezoning request for 36.7 acres along Mount Aetna Road was postponed and tentatively rescheduled for June 30.

Earlier Wednesday, Washington County Attorney Richard Douglas clarified the impact of a County Commissioners' vote against the requested rezoning.

Douglas said that if the city annexes the property, then City Council would have the final say over how the property would be zoned, which matches comments by the city administrator.

Following the commissioners' vote last week, the county administrator said that under state law the commissioners' vote blocked the requested rezoning for five years.

Douglas said Wednesday it was probably a misunderstanding that led people to conclude that the commissioners had such influence over rezoning requests in the city after the annexation.

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About 30 people showed up for the scheduled Planning Commission discussion Wednesday evening.

Audience members included Hagerstown developer Wes Churchey, who wants to develop the property, and nearby residents who have generally opposed development plans.

City Planning Director Ric Kautz said that planning department staff recommended postponing the discussion to make sure all correspondence from the public, including the County Commissioners, had been received, and to arrange for the city attorney to attend the meeting.

The Planning Commissioners voted 5-0 to postpone discussion of the annexation and rezoning requests, and to tentatively reschedule the discussion for June 30. City Councilman Alfred W. Boyer, an ex-officio member of the commission, abstained from voting.

Planning Commission Vice Chairman Jim Stone left the room for the discussion. Stone is a partner with Churchey in the firm that has contracted to buy and develop the property if Triad Properties' annexation and rezoning request is approved.

The Planning Commission typically issues a recommendation to the City Council but its recommendation is not binding.

The property is zoned for agricultural use in the county. The requested city zoning for the former Fox Deceived plantation is residential.

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

A May 25 public hearing on the requests drew about 200 people to City Hall, and most of them seemed to oppose the requests.

People living near the property said they feared the development would increase traffic, create additional flooding problems and put a strain on the public schools.

Plans call for 230 housing units in brick quads, triples and duplexes to be built on the property.

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