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Housing project raises traffic, school concerns

September 20, 1999|By ANDREA ROWLAND

A Hagerstown development company has requested a zoning change that would allow it to build one of the largest housing developments in Washington County, but some area residents argued at a public hearing Monday that the rezoning would lead to increased traffic and overcrowded schools.

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The rezoning was discussed at a joint public session of the Washington County Commissioners and the county Planning Commission.

Cross Creek Builders is requesting that 113 acres southwest of the interchange of Interstate 70 and the Sharpsburg Pike near Hagerstown currently zoned HI-1 highway interchange be rezoned to HI-2 highway interchange.

The company wants to build a 461-unit residential development on the property, according to Planning Commission documents.

Residential developments are not permitted in zones designated HI-1 highway interchange.

If approved, the rezoning would allow for construction of 461 units on the 113-acre site, which is adjacent to the Cross Creek subdivision.

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The Cross Creek subdivision is a 45-acre development containing 200 single-family homes. The nearby Cross Creek South has an additional 23 single-family lots on 11 acres.

An additional 461 units would bring to 684 the number of housing units that could be on the site.

"It's a pretty big one," said Robert Arch, director of the Washington County Planning Commission.

The new development would hold single- and multi-family homes and duplexes, said senior planner Lisa Kelly Pietro.

"We just really feel this is the least invasive and most appropriate type of development to go on that parcel," said Hilton Smith, managing member of Cross Creek Builders.

The Planning Commission should approve the rezoning because the HI-1 designation was based upon a proposed access road that would carry commercial traffic from the Sharpsburg Pike to the subject parcel, said William Wantz, attorney for Cross Creek Builders.

It was an "erroneous assumption" because that direct access road does not exist, Wantz said.

The acres proposed for rezoning have no frontage onto a public road.

The county Engineering Department will require two access points if the parcel is developed, Pietro said.

Access must go through the remaining 42 acres of Cross Creek Builders' undeveloped land, which is just north of Poffenberger Road, according to a May 1999 report by the Engineering Department, Pietro said.

The property can be accessed through the existing Cross Creek subdivision, via Bushwillow Way, and from Poffenberger Road through the developer's remaining lands, Wantz said.

Poffenberger Road resident Harold Seekford said the "old country secondary road" is already overcrowded, as are the public schools in that area.

"Our kids are back to sitting on the floor of the bus as it is now," argued Cross Creek resident Karen Savino. "It's already a mess back there."

Two other Cross Creek residents spoke against the proposed rezoning, citing concerns about increased traffic and school overcrowding.

The Planning Commission and County Commissioners will accept additional written comments about the issue for 10 days.

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