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Residents state fears at hearing

November 30, 2000

Residents state fears at hearing



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer

Kaitlin Trump at Planning Commission meetingEleven-year-old Kaitlin Trump says she is afraid she won't be able to ride her bike downtown anymore.

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She says she's afraid just crossing the street in Funkstown will be dangerous, that the town will see a spike in kidnappings, murders and robberies, and children at the nearby elementary school will be distracted by the commotion of a shopping plaza and their grades will drop.

Trump, who spoke at a Wednesday hearing on the shopping development, said she believes all of this will happen if a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter is built just outside town.

The shopping development is being proposed by Wyatt Development Co. in Aiken, S.C.

About 90 people attended the meeting of the Hagerstown Planning Commission. The commission is considering whether to approve a site plan for the development, which would include a Wal-Mart Supercenter and another smaller retail building.

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Although Trump's predictions were more severe than the warnings of those who followed her at the podium, others expressed similar fears that the proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter would dramatically increase the amount of traffic going through downtown Funkstown.

Funkstown Mayor Bob Kline, who spoke after Trump, said the store would bring dangerous levels of traffic to town.

"Neighborhoods will be damaged," Kline said.

Kline said he opposes any changes to Funkstown intersections to accommodate the proposed Wal-Mart.

Mickey Cornelius, vice president of The Traffic Group in Baltimore, which did the traffic study for the developer, said Wednesday that changes at some Baltimore Street intersections in Funkstown would improve the traffic situation without removing any parking spaces.

But Douglas Stone, chairman of the Funkstown Planning and Zoning Commission, said so much traffic would accompany a new Wal-Mart that some parking spaces would have to be eliminated.

Funkstown Assistant Mayor Paul Crampton said the proposed development should not be allowed until a Funkstown bypass is built. Many have said the proposed Wal-Mart shows the need for a bypass, which would divert traffic around downtown Funkstown. The bypass is now being called Southern Boulevard.

Matt Davis, a Hagerstown planner, said overall Funkstown intersections will "barely" operate at the minimum required level of service if the Wal-Mart is built and no changes are made to Funkstown intersections.

Davis said Wyatt Development has proposed putting about $350,000 in an escrow account for changes to Funkstown intersections if the town eventually agrees to those changes.

Responding to the project's opponents, Matt Canady, vice president of planning and development at Wyatt Development, said the protesters really don't want any development.

Canady also agreed a bypass is a good idea but said his company shouldn't have to pay for it.

The Hagerstown Planning Commission did not vote on the proposal Wednesday night. The earliest the commission could vote would be mid-December.

Commission approval of the site plan is required before the developer can apply for building permits.

Commission Chairman Doug Wright said during the Wednesday meeting that commission member David Lyles was advised by an ethics committee that he should not participate in commission discussions of the development. Wright did not say why the ethics committee ruled that way.

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