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Mt. Aetna hearing was never recorded

May 16, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

The Hagerstown Planning Commission will hold another public hearing on a controversial development plan because the tape recordings from an April 12 hearing are blank, commission Chairman Douglas Wright Jr. said Tuesday.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to recreate the April hearing on May 31, Wright said.

"The lawyers want it done so we have to do it. ... We need to rehear this to get it on tape," he said.

Wright said "unfamiliarity with the (recording) system" caused the problem. The sound system in the City Hall Council Chambers, which is where the hearing was held, was installed earlier this year.

On April 12, the commission heard testimony from nine people, all of whom spoke against plans to build 194 housing units, made up of single-family homes and duplexes, on 36.7 acres along Mount Aetna Road.

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Those who testified raised concerns about increased traffic they said a new development would bring. They argued that the buffer areas were not large enough, and that the proposed development was not compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods, which are made up of detached single-family homes.

After the public testimony, the commission voted to approve a preliminary plan for the development, which is named Greenwich Park.

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

An appeal of the commission's approval of the development plans was filed earlier this month in Washington County Circuit Court.

Those challenging the action are neighbors of the property to be developed. That property is surrounded by the Brightwood Acres, Londontowne and Fairway Meadows subdivisions.

The tapes were sought so a transcript of the April 12 meeting could be produced for the appeals.

Minutes of the meeting are available, Wright said.

Hagerstown lawyer Jim Stone, a member of the partnership building the development and a member of the city Planning Commission, said Tuesday he was satisfied with the minutes and didn't need another hearing.

Stone, who left the meeting room during the discussion of the development, said, "It's up to the other folks. If they feel that's not enough, they're entitled to speak again. It doesn't invalidate the decision, but the court could give them a chance to speak again."

Stone said grading and other site preparation work has begun on the property along Mount Aetna Road.

Hagerstown attorney William C. Wantz, who has been representing those opposed to the development, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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