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Wal-Mart files appeal

January 12, 2001

Wal-Mart files appeal



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


The company proposing a new Wal-Mart Supercenter in Hagerstown has appealed the City Planning Commission's Dec. 13 decision to deny approval for the project.

The appeal was filed Friday afternoon in Washington County Circuit Court, just hours before the deadline for an appeal. No court date has been set.

"We were hoping that they wouldn't but thought they would," said Pam Newhouse, who heads the Funkstown Citizens Coalition, a group formed in response to the proposed development.

"I figured they would. Wal-Mart's got a lot of money," said Funkstown Mayor Robert L. Kline.

Newhouse, Kline and other Funkstown residents oppose the project, saying it would dramatically and dangerously increase traffic through town.

On Dec. 13 the Hagerstown Planning Commission voted to deny approval of plans to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter and another building on 31.5 acres along Edgewood Drive near Funkstown.

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Commission members cited improper zoning as a primary factor in their decision. Some said Funkstown traffic concerns also influenced their vote.

The property is zoned C-2, general commercial. The commissioners said the proposed project is suited for property with a C-4, regional shopping center, zoning designation.

The C-4 zoning designation is for a "regional shopping center ... which contains at least 200,000 square feet of rentable space," according to the Hagerstown City Code.

The development proposal calls for a roughly 200,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter and a 30,000-square-foot retail building on Edgewood Drive in Hagerstown and near the Funkstown line. The proposal was made by Wyatt Development Co., based in Aiken, S.C.

Matt Canady, head of planning and development for Wyatt Development, did not return a telephone message left at his office Friday afternoon.

Hagerstown attorney William C. Wantz, who is representing Wyatt, refused to comment Friday on the appeal.

Friday's filing states that Wyatt is appealing the commissions' action, but it does not provide details on what points will be argued.

During past Planning Commission meetings Wantz has said the C-2 zoning designation does not limit building size.

Wantz has also said the Hagerstown Planning Department staff knew the size of the proposed development and recommended the C-2 zoning when the property was rezoned in 1999.

Planning Commission Chairman Douglas Wright Jr. said he, too, was expecting the appeal. Wright defended the commission's decision.

"I think we made a good decision," Wright said.

"This project is too large for a C-2. It looked and smelled and acted like a C-4 operation. ... We did our job and now it's time for somebody else to do theirs," he said.

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