Residents ask court to stop development

May 05, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

A group of 63 residents who live near a proposed housing development along Mt. Aetna Road wants to undo the City of Hagerstown's 1999 annexation of that 37-acre property.

Along with a request for declaratory judgment filed in Washington County Circuit Court Thursday, the residents are asking that there be a judicial review of the Planning Commission of Hagerstown's recent action concerning the proposed development.

The plaintiffs point to a March 16, 1999, meeting of the Mayor and City Council of Hagerstown at which an annexation petition was first presented by Triad Properties for the site.

The planned development, which is surrounded by the Brightwood Acres, Londontowne and Fairway Meadows subdivisions, has been named Greenwich Park.

A public hearing was advertised and held on that initial annexation petition, according to court records. The hearing drew scores of protesting neighbors to City Hall.


Amid the protests, developers dropped their original development plan prior to a City Council vote on the rezoning and annexation. The new development plan shows 36 fewer housing units than were in the original plan.

Then, on Sept. 28, 1999, Triad and Churchey Group II amended the annexation petition, dropping a Planned Unit Development zoning classification and replacing it with R1 residential, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs say that makes the annexation defective since the City of Hagerstown failed to publish a public notice of the amended annexation resolution or have a public hearing on the changes.

The 63 residents also claim the City of Hagerstown failed to get permission from the Washington County Commissioners for the residential zoning classification, again negating the annexation.

Telephone calls to several of the 63 plaintiffs were met with referrals without comment to their Hagerstown attorney, William C. Wantz. Calls to Wantz' office weren't returned.

Hagerstown attorney Jim Stone said he was representing Churchey Group II, the developers. Contacted by telephone, Stone said he hadn't seen the court papers and couldn't comment.

Contacted at his office Friday, City Attorney John Urner said he wasn't yet aware of the legal action and had no comment.

Residents had raised concerns about increased traffic and flooding they said a new development would bring. They argued the buffer areas were not large enough, their property values would go down and the proposed development was not compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods.

A month ago the planning commission voted 4-1 to approve the overall site plan for the property. The approved plan includes 194 total housing units. Two of the units are detached single-family homes; the rest are in duplexes.

Commission member Fred Nugent voted against the measure during the April 12 meeting.

The commission also voted 5-0 to approve the subdivision plan for the development's first phase, which will include construction of 32 units, all in duplexes, and a storm water management pond.

Developer Wes Churchey had hoped to begin construction this month.

Staff writer Dan Kulin contributed to this story.

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