Centre's neighbors seek buffer

April 18, 2000|By BRENDAN KIRBY

State Highway Administration officials agreed Monday to examine whether more shrubbery could be planted to separate a residential road from a new Hagerstown shopping center and a fence extended between the development and homes.

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People who live along Swann Road next to the Centre at Hagerstown expressed disappointment at what they said they regard as a failure by state officials and developers to shield their homes from noise and light from the shopping center, where some stores will open this month.

"We're not completely satisfied," John Kneisley said after the noon meeting near his home.

Kneisley said state officials failed to deliver on promises made in 1998 to move the entrance to the shopping center at least 50 feet farther from Swann Road.

Kneisley said neighbors were told that the road into the shopping complex, Centre Boulevard, would be an additional 50 to 100 feet to the east.


Ken McDonald, chief of the access permits division of the State Highway Administration, said the plans were adjusted.

"And I'm telling you I believe it's been done," he said.

McDonald pointed to an August 1998 concept plan that showed the curb of the entrance 25 feet from Janet Reynard's house.

"Today, it's 70 feet away from the house. That tells me there was some movement of Centre Boulevard," he said.

The entrance was moved just shy of 50 feet because planners determined that an additional lane was needed.

Kneisley, however, measured only 37 feet from the end of Reynard's property line to Centre Boulevard.

McDonald said part of the confusion has arisen because state officials used the house, not the property line, as their point of reference.

Neighbors said the location of Centre Boulevard is important. They contend there is not enough room for school buses to turn around at the end of the dead-end road.

McDonald said officials widened the turnaround slightly to accommodate the buses.

"The bus turnaround is in place. The School Board is satisfied with it," he said.

McDonald told residents he would do everything he can to address their concerns.

"The reason I'm here is to try to come to some agreement on this," he said. "Obviously, the road has already been built. There are some things I'm not going to be able to do."

One neighbor asked if trees and bushes could be planted in a 7-foot-wide spot between the end of Swann Road and Centre Boulevard. McDonald said he would examine whether that would be feasible.

He said he also would explore the possibility of planting additional trees along U.S. 40 and extending a fence that the developer placed between Reynard's house and the shopping center.

Keith D. Moore, director of engineering at Frederick Seibert & Associates, said the developer, Petrie Dierman Kughn, has shown a greater-than-normal willingness to address residents' concerns.

"These guys have done more for you as neighbors in every way," he said. "These guys have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on your concerns."

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