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editorial - daily mail

12/13/00

December 14, 2000

A solution that satisfies all unlikely in Wal-Mart project



Tonight at 7 p.m. the Hagerstown Planning Commission takes a look at whether C-2 commercial zoning is appropriate for a new Super Wal-Mart planned for Edgewood Drive near the city's border with Funkstown. Zoning alone won't make this project work, however, or unsnarl the traffic jams it will generate.

The plan under review is for a 200,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter, and another retail building of about 30,000 square feet on 31.5 acres along Edgewood Drive. The project has created controversy for a number of reasons.

Edgewood Drive is a two-lane road that runs from the Dual Highway (U.S. 40) to U.S. 40 Alternate in Funkstown. At certain times of day, it's crowded now and development has been allowed so close to the road that it would be difficult to widen it.

The company developing the Wal-Mart and officials of the City of Hagerstown have proposed a number of measures to ease the impact of traffic on Funkstown, but that town's officials have said that they will fight the development "to the last," according to Mayor Robert Kline.

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One solution would be a by-pass which would take traffc around Funkstown. But because bypasses are thought to encourage sprawl, they don't fit in with the concept of "Smart Growth," which means no state funds are available. A committee has been formed to consider how to fund such a road locally, but it probably won't be ready in time to handle Wal-Mart's traffic.

The best plan would be to shift the Wal-Mart development to a Dual Highway location, but local officials haven't pursued that strategy.

That leaves two possibilities, neither of them good. In the first, the development's zoning is turned down, leading to a long court battle wth taxpayers funding one side of it. In the second, Funkstown continues to resist, but the development goes foward anyway, making a bad bottleneck worse and forcing all who live nearby or pass through to live with the consequences of every local government's lack of planning.

In that case, it will be the present nobody got that takes the glow off the holidays.

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