Rezoning draws single objection


Washington County Commissioners and members of the Washington County Planning Commission heard from one resident of the Huyetts Crossroads area who objected to a proposed rezoning of 69 acres near U.S. 40 and Md. 63 for houses, during a joint meeting Monday.

The property is zoned agricultural and is unimproved. Some of it is used for crops and some for shale extraction, according to county Senior Planner Timothy Lung.

Leon Kohutiak of Heather Drive said he's been awakened at 3 a.m. by loud noises coming from the excavation site.

Piles of dust and dirt have found their way inside his home, he said.

"I've been tasting dust for a long time," said Kohutiak.

Lung said officials with the Washington County Health Department said they received several complaints about the dust from the shale extraction but do not object to the rezoning.

The site is owned by Dr. Vincent Smith Sr., who lives nearby at 12062 Smithfield Farm Lane.


Smith acknowledged at least one instance where his extraction crews did not wet down the access road to prevent excessive dust, but that procedures are in place to lessen the impact on the community.

"When you're dealing with this much volume it's hard to control the dust," Smith said.

The shale is being removed to lower the grade for utilities, he said.

"We have tried hard to be good neighbors," he said.

If the zoning is approved, it would allow for one-and-two family homes on 15,000-square-foot lots.

For rezoning, there must be convincing evidence that a neighborhood's character has changed substantially or that the present zoning is a mistake.

Smith's attorney William Wantz told the board the change in zoning is appropriate because of the residential development at Walnut Point Heights and Highland Manor, which surround the site.

The primary access to the site would be from Wheatfield Drive and Trickling Spring Road.

Construction would take place in stages, starting with the southern section of the site working north and then west, he said.

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