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Bypass proposed to ease Wal-Mart traffic

May 31, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II called Wednesday night for the creation of a special taxing district, or districts, to pay for future road improvements, which could include the long-discussed Funkstown bypass.

cont. from front page

The issue came up during a Hagerstown Planning Commission meeting on the proposed construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter along Edgewood Drive.

If built, the Supercenter is expected to increase traffic through nearby Funkstown. Many Funkstown residents say the construction of a bypass would alleviate the problem.

Proposed routes for the bypass would link Edgewood Drive and Oak Ridge Drive.

The consensus among the Planning Commission members was that the developer of the Wal-Mart project, Wyatt Development Co. in Aiken, S.C., should not be required to contribute toward the construction of a bypass. City Engineer Bruce Johnston said estimates for a bypass are $12 million to $15 million.

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Bruchey said he felt that having Wyatt Development pay for a bypass would be unreasonable. Bruchey said a special taxing district could be established so that all developments in that area could share the cost of a new road.

Bruchey said the details of such a district still need to be discussed, including what the boundaries of such a special taxing district would be and whether both residential and commercial properties would be taxed.

"Nothing is firm yet," Bruchey said. "It's a new idea we need to look at."

Bruchey said the concept should be applied to other parts of the city that are being developed.

"It's all up for discussion. It could be citywide. It could be anything. But it needs to be discussed sooner rather than later," Bruchey said.

Bruchey said he would put the matter on a City Council work session agenda within the next 90 days.

The Planning Commission also reviewed plans for road improvements that would be required by the developers of the new Wal-Mart. No decision was made during Wednesday's meeting.

A date for a Planning Commission vote on the plan has not been set. Commission Chairman Douglas Wright Jr. said public input will be permitted during the meeting at which the commissioners vote on the plan.

Planning Commission approval of the plans is required before the developer can receive building permits.

The road improvements recommended by Johnston included:

-- Adding by-pass lanes in two places on Edgewood Drive, one in front of Stouffer Street and the other in front of Haywood Circle, both in Funkstown.

-- Extending one right-turn only lane and designating another right-turn only lane at the intersection of Baltimore Street and Edgewood Drive in Funkstown.

-- Widening some lanes at the intersection of Frederick Street and Baltimore Street in Funkstown, to create two new right-turn only lanes.

-- Sealing off Poplar and Chestnut streets in Funkstown at the intersections with Frederick Street and Edgewood Drive.

Poplar and Chestnut streets run parallel to Baltimore Street, and motorists use them to avoid the traffic signals and traffic on Baltimore Street.

Changes to Funkstown roads would have to be approved by the Funkstown government.

A representative from Wyatt Development said the company would build a fence or wall behind the proposed Wal-Mart so there would be a barrier between the store and Funkstown Elementary School about 200 feet away.

Despite the recommended road and intersection improvements, some Funkstown residents, including members of a newly formed Funkstown citizens group, say a bypass is the only real solution.

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