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Planners approve Pangborn housing

March 14, 2002|BY TARA REILLY

The Hagerstown Planning Commission recommended Wednesday night that the City Council approve a special zoning designation that would enable a developer to build townhouses and apartment buildings near Pangborn Park.

Richard McCleary, a Williamsport developer, wants to build 28 townhouses and eight three-story apartment buildings on about 6.5 acres along Pangborn Boulevard between Security Road and Pangborn Park. The total number of housing units on the property would be 76, down from an earlier proposal of 88.

Each apartment building in the approximately $5 million complex would contain six housing units.

"I'm pleased, and I think everybody wins," McCleary said after the vote. "I think the community wins, I think the city wins, I think the park wins and I think the developer wins."

Some of the approximately 12 residents of the area who turned out for the meeting voiced concerns after the vote that the complex would increase traffic, overcrowd the local elementary school and make the park unattractive.

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"It's going to kill the park," said Howard Mendelsohn, who lives on the corner of Pangborn Boulevard. "They're taking over the park. It's ludicrous - the whole thing."

The planning commission recommended that the City Council approve a Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the property. A PUD is a special zoning designation that allows more buildings on a property than would be allowed under its existing zoning.

McCleary is the co-owner of the property, along with planning commission member David Lyles. Lyles did not participate in the discussion concerning the proposed complex.

The Planning Commission had tabled a decision twice, but acted after McCleary decided to eliminate two apartment buildings and give more land on the property to the city to expand the park and build parking spaces.

The city would get 1.58 acres for the park and parking lot expansions. City Planning Director Ric Kautz said 170 parking spaces would fit on that acreage.

McCleary said the complex wouldn't increase traffic substantially and would beautify the area, because he plans to have green areas. Now, he said, the property is just a vacant lot.

"Tell me what's pretty about it," McCleary said. "The weeds are going to continue to grow. We feel (the development) is going to be an improvement to the neighborhood."

He said the development would resemble the Northgate Townhomes and have brick facades. Some of the townhouses would have garages.

The homes would cost at least $100,000, and middle-income families would live in the rental units, he said.

"Where are we going to get the people to live in these places?" Marian Beair, who lives near the park, asked after the vote.

Planning Commission member Steven Zaks said the city would benefit with a development on the property.

"It appears the city wins with this scenario," Zaks said. "We had an empty lot there."

McCleary said he expects his proposal to go through about six more months of planning. If approved, work would begin in 2003 and be completed in nine months to a year, he said.

City Economic Development Coordinator Deborah Everhart said the PUD request will go before the City Council. The council will hold a public hearing and then take a final vote at another meeting. Dates have not yet been set for those meetings.

"What we're proposing tonight is the best that that community can get," McCleary said. "Not only the community, but the City of Hagerstown."

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