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Zoning density in county plan concerns some residents

March 20, 2002|BY MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - Many of the 19 speakers who took the podium at Tuesday night's public hearing talked about zoning density restrictions in a proposed draft of the Washington County Comprehensive Plan.

More than 100 people turned out to listen to the speakers and to hear comments from the staff of the Washington County Planning Commission at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater.

"Higher density would lower property values and that concerns me," said Richard Bowers, a Hagerstown real estate appraiser since 1965.

Paul Perini of Hagerstown concurred that the change in density is of concern but said farmers, many of whom are struggling, may be put out of business if the density requirements are lowered from one home per acre to one home per 10 acres.

"That only devalues the land," Perini said.

The room erupted in applause when Williamsport dairy farmer Charles Wiles quoted his grandfather about land use and the future of Washington County.

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"He always said 'so goes the farmer, so goes the nation' and after 30 years farming, I know he was right," Wiles said. "I just want to know how you are going to protect our land values."

Charles Albright, of Spring Valley, suggested that impact fees are a practical approach to growth. "Put the burden on the people who come into the county," Albright said.

Saying she was speaking as a businesswoman, Gaye McGovern applauded the expansion of the original plan to consider quality of life.

But she reminded the Planning Commission that "Washington County is a very large business and it's good to keep in touch with all the customers, namely the citizens."

Mike Thompson, who lives in Washington County and works in Frederick, Md., voiced his concern about infrastructure.

"When that's not taken care of, it is very costly for existing residents," Thompson said, referring to water, sewer, roads, schools, etc.

Michael Marschner of 19219 Jamestown Drive, warned that the county can't expand current waste water facilities forever, saying there are limits.

The plan lays the groundwork for the county over the next 20 years. Written comments will be accepted for the next 10 days.

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