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Sharpsburg tow service OK'd, but conditions imposed

February 14, 2001

Sharpsburg tow service OK'd, but conditions imposed



By JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer


The Washington County Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously granted a special exception Wednesday night for a towing service south of Sharpsburg, but imposed five conditions.

Nine people stood in opposition to allowing the towing service and storage yard within agricultural zoning at 4509 Harpers Ferry Road. Five people stood in support during the 90-minute hearing at the Washington County Administration Building.

John Allen Otzelberger Jr. said he expected to tow at most five vehicles a month, mostly passenger cars and light trucks. The service would help local police agencies and those with vehicle breakdowns.

Otzelberger said most stored vehicles would stay two to three days although some might be kept up to 60 days if the owner thinks the vehicle isn't worth towing and it has to be sold.

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Some neighbors testified they were concerned about the safety of children in the area, the possible contamination of nearby Antietam Creek, the proximity to Antietam National Battlefield and the eyesore the storage yard could be along a road frequented by tourists.

The five conditions imposed by the board are:

- The towed vehicles are to be stored on the part of the property that is 15 feet lower so it is unlikely the vehicles could be seen from Harpers Ferry Road.

- That area is to be fenced and screened. Otzelberger said he wanted to install a 6-foot chain-link fence and screen with spruce or cedar trees.

- That are to be no more than six towed vehicles at a time stored.

- The board did not grant a variance from the 50-foot rear and side yard setbacks. Otzelberger asked the board for 10-foot setbacks for the 2.08-acre lot.

- No unlicensed vehicles are to be kept on the property outside the fenced area. Some neighbors said there were unlicensed trucks on the property.

When asked how he felt about getting approval, Otzelberger said, "I'm unsure." He said he didn't know when the towing service would start.

Board alternate Ron Jeter sat in for member Jan Wetterer, who had to recuse herself because she is on the Town of Sharpsburg's payroll as editor of the Town Crier newsletter.

Town officials had expressed concern about the towing service, but Mayor Sid Gale said he thought the board's decision was OK with the conditions.

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