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Truck plaza plan opposed

June 15, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

A proposal by D. M. Bowman Inc. to build a 9-acre fuel center to serve cars and trucks near Williamsport is drawing fire from local residents who say it will damage the community.

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One opponent, Bob Harsh, predicts more than 100 people will attend a Washington County Board of Zoning Appeals meeting Wednesday to voice their objections to the proposal.

Another opponent, Toni Shrader, has been going door-to-door telling residents in the area about the proposal and urging them to attend the meeting and call elected officials.

"We are begging and pleading people to show up, because hopefully the politicians will respond to bodies there," she said.

Opponents also are distributing flyers and running an advertisement, she said.

The proposal is for construction of a fuel stop/truck plaza at the southwest quadrant of the intersection of Md. 63 and 68 and Interstate 81. It would be built on 9.1 acres zoned highway interchange 1.

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The project would include a convenience store and a car wash and would have about 150 parking spaces, including 75 for trucks.

"They can call it a travel plaza but it's a truck stop," Shrader said.

Based on the number of parking spaces, neighbors envision thousands of vehicles going to the businesses, she said.

"We are just stunned by the massive size of it," Shrader said. "There are a lot of very angry people."

Harsh said, "This would be a devastating blow to the people in the southwest part of the county. There is no doubt it will be a beautiful service area. But my God, it is just the wrong place."

Harsh lives within one mile of the site and Shrader lives about two miles from it. The entrance and exit to the plaza would be off Spielman Road.

Shrader and Harsh say they are concerned about whether putting a plaza in that spot would be safe, especially in light of a recent fatality at the intersection of Md. 68 and Md. 63.

The Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation, known as CHIEF, is asking the Board of Zoning Appeals for permission to build the plaza.

CHIEF, which owns the land, has a contract to sell the property to Bowman, which would operate the truck stop, Merle Elliott, president of CHIEF, said Thursday.

CHIEF filed the request to facilitate the process for Bowman, Eliott said.

Bowman officials, including Chairman Donald M. Bowman, did not return phone calls Thursday.

The truck stop would be about five miles from another new truck stop, said Tim Troxell, assistant director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

Tennessee-based Pilot Corp. opened a 6,000-square-foot Travel Center north of the Interstate 70 exit on Md. 63 at Hunter's Green Business Park on Feb. 14.

Pilot is catching traffic off Interstate 70 and the proposed plaza would be a good way to get I-81 traffic, Troxell said.

Shrader said there is no need to put a truck plaza at the proposed location, which is adjacent to the Interstate Industrial Park. There are better places, sites that would have less impact on nearby communities, she said.

"If the community accepts it, fine," Harsh said.

But he said his sense of the situation is that most local residents not only oppose the plan but are shocked at the proposal.

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