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Pangborn development fight centers on the traffic

April 24, 2002|BY DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

The expected increase in traffic was the top concern raised by citizens who spoke during a Tuesday public hearing on a plan for apartment buildings and townhouses near Hagerstown's Pangborn Park.

Eight citizens testified during the hearing on the proposal to build 28 townhouses and 48 apartments on 6.5 acres, which is now an overgrown parking lot at the corner of Pangborn Boulevard and Security Road. The apartments would be in three buildings, according to plans shown Tuesday.

Seven of the eight residents said they opposed the plan. In addition to traffic concerns, some said they were concerned about the impact on wildlife. Some said the proposed three-story apartment buildings would be too many residential units for the area.

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One citizen spoke in favor of the plan, saying the proposed development looks good and is more desirable than what could go there.

Developer and property co-owner Richard McCleary said the development would bring less traffic to the area than there was when the nearby Pangborn company was operating at its peak.

McCleary said if the council does not approve the proposed development, 58 residential units in duplexes could be built on the property.

To build the proposed apartments and townhouses, the City Council would have to approve a special zoning designation called a Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the property.

Mayor William M. Breichner has said a final council vote on the proposal could be taken in June.

Without council approval, construction would be limited by the current residential zoning designation on the property.

City Economic Development Coordinator Deborah Everhart has said the current residential zoning on the property would allow a maximum of 40 residential units in duplexes and one single-family house, not the 58 units McCleary said could go there.

Under the apartments and townhouses proposal, the city would be given 1.5 acres adjacent to the park, which could be used for public parking, McCleary said.

If duplexes were built on the property, no land would be given to the city, he said.

During the 21/2 hour hearing, City Councilwoman Penny May Nigh criticized David Lyles, a partner in the project and a member of the city Planning Commission.

Nigh said she was "upset" the city did not buy the land instead of Lyles and McCleary. She said Lyles should have told city officials the property was available before he and McCleary bought it.

Nigh's statements drew applause from the crowd.

Lyles did not comment on Nigh's remarks.

McCleary said Lyles was keeping confident a business transaction he brought to Lyles. He said Lyles did not participate in Planning Commission discussions of the proposed development.

McCleary said that after they bought the property he approached a city official and offered to sell the land to the city, but thought his offer might have "scared the city."

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