Rezonings questioned

March 14, 2000|By BRUCE HAMILTON

The proposed rezoning of about 80 acres north of Hagerstown is a "much less intense use" that would effectively cut potential traffic volume in half, engineer Malcolm Davis said Monday night at a hearing on requested zoning changes.

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Testifying on behalf of development company Evergreen Properties LLC, Davis portrayed the change as preferable to a large shopping center. But some residents rejected the argument as a scare tactic.

"This is part of a pattern of ill-conceived, helter skelter development in Washington County," said Kurt Redenbo. "If the commercial property was viable, it would have been developed a long time ago."

The property was one of two proposed rezoning cases on the city's outskirts that drew questions and opposition from several of the approximately 50 residents who attended a hearing before the Washington County Planning Commission and the County Commissioners.


Many expressed concerns about increased traffic and school overcrowding, issues that officials said would be considered with site plan submittals in both cases.

Evergreen Properties applied to rezone land near the intersection of Eastern Boulevard and Leitersburg Pike from business and agricultural to mostly residential. Davis said the original zoning of 78 acres as "planned business" was a mistake.

"Twenty-five years later, that development has still not occurred," he said. "Perhaps it was a mistake in zoning."

Some residents spoke about Evergreen's plan, but many said they do not oppose new buildings on the land.

"It needs development," said Paul Yazdani. "As far as I am concerned, it is an eyesore."

Yazdani said schools in the area are already saturated with children. Allowing more to crowd them further would be an injustice to existing and future residents, he said. "I beg you to consider this in your decision."

Planners said single-family dwellings within the urban growth limit, such as those allowed in the proposed 39-acre residential urban zone, would be exempt from the Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance.

Multifamily residences in an adjacent proposed 43-acre parcel would trigger APFO consideration. Some residents opposed multifamily houses, which they said would be out of character with the neighborhood.

"This proposal is not all bad but it's also not all good," said Jack Byers. He said a mixed use is better than a shopping center, but he opposed the configuration of the zones.

"Nobody wants this in their back yards," said Dennis Corapi. But he said he would not oppose the rezoning as long as his concerns about schools and traffic are addressed.

Triad Properties wants to convert a 49.5-acre parcel along Mount Aetna Road, about 3,000 feet east of the Robinwood Drive intersection, from agricultural to residential.

The residential suburban zone would allow minimum lot sizes of 10,000 square feet while the ag zone permits subdivision into 20,000-square-foot lots.

Lawyer Kent Oliver, representing the developer, testified along with an engineer that the surrounding neighborhood has changed over time from farmland to almost entirely residential area.

Resident Pam Arnold agreed the land's use has changed. "Has it changed in such a manner as to merit rezoning? I'm not sure," she said. She opposed a higher density of housing, saying "more is not better."

Asked what the developer plans to build, Oliver said, "as far as I know, it's planned for single-family unit dwellings." About eight residents testified and several complained the plans aren't clearer.

"We don't know what we're getting," said Jim Wells.

The planning commission will meet in the coming weeks to make a recommendation on the cases to the Washington County Commissioners, who will vote on them.

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