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I-81 truck stop faces opposition

February 03, 2001

I-81 truck stop faces opposition



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


Opponents of a proposal by D.M. Bowman Inc. to build a 9-acre fuel center off Md. 68 near Williamsport were out in force Saturday night at a meeting held to discuss the project.

More than 100 people attended the meeting in Downsville about what opposition leader Toni Shrader calls "a nightmare."

Shrader said more than 1,200 signatures have been collected for a petition opposing the project, which calls for construction of a fuel stop/truck plaza at the southwest quadrant of the intersection of Md. 63 and 68 and Interstate 81.

The project, which would be built on 9.1 acres zoned highway interchange 1, would include a convenience store, a car wash and about 150 parking spaces, including 75 for trucks.

"I know some of you have been told that it's a done deal. ... But we have voices too. This is not a waste of time," Shrader said. "We are here tonight asking for your help."

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Speaker Gary Hovermill suggested asking the County Commissioners for a county moratorium on truck stops.

Shrader said she is not opposed to truck stops, but she and many others think Washington County already has its fair share of truck stops on I-81.

Last week the Maryland State Highway Administration told a Bowman company's contractor it must modify its traffic study to better address traffic volume, SHA spokeswoman Lora Rakowski said. The state was looking at the proposal because it calls for conversion of the existing road shoulders at Md. 68 and Md. 63 into additional traffic lanes.

For the company to obtain a special exception to operate a fuel center, the proposal would have to be aired in a public hearing held by the county Board of Zoning Appeals. In addition, the county Planning Commission would have to approve the project site plan.

Bowman Chairman Don Bowman has confirmed the state is looking at the project at the company's request.

Nobody spoke at Saturday's meeting representing Bowman or the county government.

The opponents are conducting a letter-writing campaign aimed at state and county elected officials. Each attendee was given a set of form letters to send to members of the Washington County delegation and the County Commissioners.

The letter states, in part, "I am asking you to vigorously oppose and help defeat this inappropriate and potentially dangerous project. I also respectfully request that you personally appear at any public hearing before the Washington County Board of Zoning Appeals on this project and speak on my behalf."

Shrader noted that last year Shank and Munson spoke before the Board of Zoning Appeals, opposing a proposed cell phone tower near South Mountain. The board turned down the request.

The Bowman proposal was on the agenda for a June meeting of the county Board of Zoning Appeals, but it was withdrawn before the meeting began.

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