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City planners balance parking, housing issues

February 14, 2002

City planners balance parking, housing issues



The Hagerstown Planning Commission Wednesday pored over several proposed zoning ordinance text amendments in an effort to balance the need for inner-city housing with the long-term goal of increasing home ownership in Hagerstown.

The sticking point was parking.

City Engineer Rodney Tissue said he met with the Hagerstown City Council in October about the negative effect on parking when turning a single-family house into a duplex.

New multi-family dwellings are required to have two off-street parking spaces per unit.

"My concern is the blacktopping of backyards so they can fulfill the parking requirements," said Planning Commission Chairman Doug Wright.

Commission member Fred Nugent said lots of people are already subdividing without building permits.

Under current zoning laws, it is legal to go from one to two units without permits, said Senior Planner Kathleen Maher. After that, permits are required.

Debbie Everhart, city zoning administrator, said she gets notice if another person applies for electric service or seeks a new address. "And we also find out when neighbors tell us," she said.

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Hagerstown Planning Director Richard Kautz stressed that the proposed text changes are designed to help retain single-family dwellings.

An alternative to blacktop was suggested by Wright who said other materials can be used to enable parking without eliminating yards altogether.

Tissue described the proposed changes as new ground.

Further study was suggested.

- Marlo Barnhart

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