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Some council members back development plan on Mt. Aetna Rd.

July 20, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

A controversial annexation and development plan for 36.7 acres along Mount Aetna Road on the edge of Hagerstown was supported by a majority of Hagerstown City Council members Tuesday evening.

A formal council vote is expected next Tuesday on the annexation and proposal to build 230 housing units in brick quads, triples and duplexes on land surrounded by the Brightwood Acres, Londontowne and Fairway Meadows subdivisions.

A change in the underlying zoning designation between what the developer requested and what most council members said they support could delay final approval of the development plan.

A majority of council members said they would support a residential R1 zoning designation for the property instead of the R2 designation that had been requested. The change would affect the property only if the current development plans, which are being voted on separately, fall through.

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"This doesn't change our plans one bit," said Wes Churchey, a Hagerstown developer and construction company owner who heads a partnership that plans to purchase and develop the land if the annexation and proposed development are approved.

Churchey said he would return with a request to change the underlying zoning designation to R1 instead of R2.

John Urner, a city attorney, said if the council votes for the R1 zoning designation the city should hold another public hearing on the annexation and zoning change.

The property is part of the old Fox Deceived plantation. The land, owned by Triad Properties, has an agriculture zoning designation.

Council members William M. Breichner, Susan Saum-Wicklein and Alfred W. Boyer said they believe the annexation and proposed development would increase the city's tax base and extend the corporate boundaries.

Councilmen Lewis C. Metzner and J. Wallace McClure said they oppose the plan largely because of the opposition from neighbors of the property.

Metzner said most of those who would be directly affected by the development do not live in the city and therefore Washington County government, not the city, should decide on the rezoning.

The commissioners had tried to block the rezoning but failed.

Almost 50 people attended the meeting Tuesday evening. Many applauded Metzner and McClure for their opposition. Public input was not allowed during the meeting.

Over the past several months, some residents have argued that the proposed development would increase traffic, create additional flooding problems and put a strain on the public schools.

In comments directed to those opposed to the proposed development Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said: "A wise man once told me that if they wanted to maintain that beautiful scenery put there they should have bought the other acreage."

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