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Court OKs Churchey annexation

October 26, 2000

Court OKs Churchey annexation



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


The Hagerstown annexation of almost 37 acres along Mount Aetna Road was upheld Thursday by Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III.

Wright delayed ruling on whether the city's zoning of the annexed property is valid. He did not say when he would issue an opinion on the matter.

Jim Stone, attorney for the development company that sought the annexation and new zoning, said the judge probably would issue a written ruling within the next few weeks.

The development company Churchey Group II is planning to build a residential community on the land, which is surrounded by the Brightwood Acres, Londontowne and Fairway Meadows subdivisions.

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Last year, the City Council annexed the property and gave it an R-1 residential zoning classification.

A group of 63 residents who live near the proposed development site challenged the annexation and zoning in Circuit Court. They were primarily concerned that the development would not fit in with the surrounding neighborhood.

In May, the City Planning Commission approved the first phase of development, which is the construction of 32 units, all duplexes.

The overall development plan for the property shows 194 units on the site. Two of the units would be single-family homes and the rest duplexes.

The adjacent neighborhoods are made up of single-family homes.

Plaintiff's attorney William C. Wantz argued Thursday the annexation should have been readvertised and the subject of additional public hearings after the developer dropped a request for a Planned Unit Development, or PUD.

The zoning request had been for an R-1 classification with a PUD overlay. That PUD would have permitted more units on the property.

In his ruling, Wright said the public had adequate notice of the proposed R-1 zoning classification, and the withdrawal of the PUD request was not a substantial change.

Wantz also argued the city's R-1 zoning is substantially different from the county's zoning for the property, and the characteristics of surrounding neighborhood, and therefore must be approved by the Washington County Commissioners.

The property had an agricultural zoning classification from the county.

Stone argued the city zoning is not substantially different from the county's because both designations allow residential development. He also argued the larger neighborhood, which is more than the adjacent lands, includes townhomes and commercial properties.

John Urner, a city attorney, said it is up to the city to determine whether the new zoning is substantially different than the county zoning for that property. He said city officials decided there was no substantial difference.

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