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Williamsport leaders confer with County Commissioners

February 06, 2002

Williamsport leaders confer with County Commissioners



By ANDREA BROWN-HURLEY
andreabh@herald-mail.com


WILLIAMSPORT - Residents' opposition to a proposed truck stop in Williamsport topped a list of issues discussed Tuesday night during a joint meeting of the Williamsport Mayor and Town Council and the Washington County Board of Commissioners.

About 25 Williamsport residents attended the meeting, which is held each year to discuss issues facing Williamsport and the town's annual tax rebate from county government.

The rebates - which are based on population, tax base and income - partially reimburse municipalities for the police, parks and road services they provide. 2000 U.S. Census population figures affected this year's rebates.

Williamsport received $42,049 this year, down almost 13 percent from the $48,275 the town received in 2001. Williamsport's population decreased about 11 percent from 2,103 in 1990 to 1,868 in 2000, according to current census data.

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After Commission President Gregory I. Snook reviewed the tax rebate program and told the mayor and council about such county offerings as a safety and training program for municipal employees, bid opportunity for street overlay projects and the county Web site, residents voiced their opinions about issues ranging from the truck stop to school redistricting.

"We're here to fight for our little bit of area," Marvin Berger said.

Berger and others voiced opposition to a truck stop that D.M. Bowman Inc. wants to build on nine acres off Interstate 81 near the intersection of Md. 63 and Md. 68 south of Williamsport.

Residents have said they fear the truck stop would increase air and noise pollution, crime and traffic.

William Peters and other residents said they were not given the opportunity to speak at a county Board of Zoning Appeals public hearing on the proposed truck stop.

"We heard loud and clear here tonight your concerns about how those meetings are conducted," Commissioner Bert Iseminger said.

The Board of Zoning Appeals works much like a courtroom with rules governing testimony, Snook said. He asked Zoning Appeals Board Chairman Robert Veil to consider being more flexible.

Such inflexibility is "not in the best interests of the community," Commissioner John Schnebly said.

Iseminger suggested residents who wish to address the Board ask permission in writing. If the situation doesn't improve, he said, the commissioners will take action.

Residents also expressed concern about how residential development planned for the town would affect schools they said are already crowded.

The county should better limit development or developers should fund solutions to such problems, resident Toni Shrader said. Sending Williamsport students to other schools isn't an agreeable option, several residents said.

"We have adequate capacity in our schools but what we don't have are citizens who are willing to believe that their children will get equal education in other facilities," Schnebly said.

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