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Land owner waiting to see what develops at Pangborn

March 15, 2002|BY DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

The overgrown parking lot next to Hagerstown's Pangborn Park should see new home construction in spring 2003, property co-owner and developer Richard McCleary said Thursday.

The only question is whether the construction will be townhouses and apartment buildings or duplexes, he said.

The Hagerstown City Council will decide whether to approve a special zoning designation called a Planned Unit Development (PUD). The proposed PUD would allow the construction of 28 townhouses and eight, six-unit apartment buildings on 6.5 acres along Pangborn Boulevard between Security Road and the park.

On March 5, council members were unified in their opposition to the proposed PUD. Without council approval, construction would be limited by the current residential zoning designation on the property, which would allow a maximum of 40 residential units in duplexes, plus one single-family house there, City Economic Development Coordinator Deborah Everhart said.

But since early March some council members have softened their positions on the matter, although a majority still seem inclined to vote against the PUD.

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Councilwoman Carol N. Moller said Thursday she would rather see the proposed apartments and townhouses there than rows of duplexes.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said he would rather see duplexes than apartments and townhouses, because duplexes would be more likely to be owned by the occupants.

"In many duplexes today the owner lives in half and rents out the other half. But apartments are all rental, and townhomes are nothing more than multiple duplexes linked together," Aleshire said.

Aleshire said he hasn't made up his mind about the proposed PUD.

"I will need to see the plan and see what level of parking (would be) gained vs. what we're losing in homeownership," he said.

Under the current proposed PUD, the city would receive about 1.5 acres of the parking lot adjacent to the park.

Councilman N. Linn Hendershot said he will probably vote against the PUD because "the impact of that (housing) density in that small an area would be devastating," he said.

Hendershot said he "feels the council probably will vote against the PUD."

Councilwoman Penny May Nigh said she probably will vote against the proposed PUD.

"But I really have to see what these people want," she said.

The City Planning Commission on Wednesday recommended the City Council approve a proposed PUD.

A public hearing on the proposed PUD before the Mayor and City Council probably will be on April 23, City Planning Director Richard Kautz said.

A final council vote could be taken in June, he said.

The proposed PUD has drawn criticism from some park neighbors, several of whom have put signs in their front yards that read, "Please Save Pangborn Park From Developers."

David Williams, 43, lives across the street from the park and has one of the "Save Pangborn" signs in his yard.

"I think the property values will go down," he said.

Williams said, "I realize there will be building there," but he said he would prefer that construction to be in the form of single-family homes.

But McCleary, who co-owns the property with Planning Commission member David Lyles, said, "the economics doesn't work for single-family homes."

He said the proposed townhouses and apartment buildings will look better than the overgrown empty lot that is there now.

Lyles has not participated in commission discussion of the proposed development.

Last week, McCleary said he would drop his plan if he could confirm council opposition to the plan. McCleary said he decided to press forward with the proposed PUD once he learned that most council members had not seen his proposal.

"We have to lay the cards on the table and see how it plays out," McCleary said.

"The fact is there is going to be development there. What development will be there is unknown. ... But one way or another there will be construction in (spring) 2003."

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