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Plan to build on Mount Aetna Road altered

September 28, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

A Hagerstown developer withdrew a controversial proposal for a 230-unit residential development for 36.7 acres along Mount Aetna Road Tuesday, and now plans to develop the land under the city's most restrictive residential zoning classification.

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The action was applauded by Hagerstown's Mayor and City Council, and some residents who had strongly opposed the original development plan.

Following the announcement, council members voted 4-0 to approve the annexation and rezoning of the property minus the original development plan. Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein was absent from the Tuesday meeting.

The annexation will take effect in 45 days.

The council is expected to cast a final vote on rezoning the property Oct. 12. The property currently has an agricultural zoning designation. If the change is approved, the property will have an R-1 zoning classification.

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Under the R-1 classification, single-family homes and duplexes may be built, but townhouse and similar developments are not permitted, said Matt Davis, a city planner.

Wes Churchey told the mayor and council the change in plans was prompted by the likelihood "of a long legal battle" if the original development plans were approved.

Churchey heads the development group that requested annexation and rezoning for the property, which is known as the Miller Farm and the former Fox Deceived Plantation. The land is surrounded by the Brightwood Acres, Londontowne and Fairway Meadows subdivisions.

Originally, Churchey's group had planned to build 230 residential units in brick quads, triplexes and duplexes on the property.

The plan was attacked by many neighbors who said the development would cause traffic problems and flooding and would lower their property values.

Opponents of the plan packed two public hearings on the proposed development, and some had enlisted the services of a Hagerstown lawyer who said residents could block the original development plan in the courts.

Churchey said he believed the original plan would have survived a challenge in court, but it wouldn't have been pleasant.

"I think this puts everyone at ease now," Churchey said.

"I commend you Mr. Churchey for what you have done. We welcome you," said Brightwood Acres resident Allan Powell, who had been a staunch opponent of the original plan.

Councilmen Lewis C. Metzner and J. Wallace McClure, who were both against the original development plan, said they were pleased the development plans were being withdrawn.

"I commend the applicants," Metzner said. "I'm sure you'll put in a nice development."

The land is owned by Triad Properties, and Churchey's group had agreed to purchase the land if the annexation and rezoning requests were approved by the council.

Churchey said they still plan to purchase the land.

He said there has been no decision on what will be built on the property.

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