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Zoning OK'd for motorcycle club

May 16, 2002|BY ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

A group of motorcycle-riding law enforcement officers can hold its monthly meetings at a garage off Elizabeth Street, the Hagerstown Board of Zoning Appeals ruled Wednesday.

The Board of Zoning Appeals voted 4-0 to grant a special exception request by Dale Meadows of Ranson, W.Va.

Meadows plans to let the Maryland VII chapter of Blue Knights International Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club Inc. use his garage.

Board Chairman Brett R. Wilson said the use is already allowed by the zoning ordinance, so the board was deciding only whether the location is appropriate.

Under the terms of the approval, the motorcycle club is allowed to meet only during the day, any repairs to motorcycles must be made inside and dangerous materials cannot be stored.

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Meadows, a former police officer, owns six rental units and the 1,800-square-foot garage on Elizabeth Street, which runs between Burhans Boulevard and West Washington Street.

He said four people were caught breaking into his garage with drugs and gasoline in November, apparently in an attempt to burn it down, even after it previously had been damaged by fire.

The neighborhood has "a lot of bad elements," but the presence of the Blue Knights could turn that around, Meadows said.

He plans to let the Blue Knights use the garage at no charge under a 20-year lease. In return, the group will take care of the property.

The chapter, which has 19 members, meets one Saturday a month for about two hours, President Shannon Showe said. The group has been meeting at the Pizza Hut off Wesel Boulevard, he said.

The Blue Knights is a non-profit fraternal organization of active and retired law enforcement officers. They ride together and donate to charities.

"This isn't your Hell's Angels or your Pagans," Showe said, referring to two rival rough-and-tumble motorcycle clubs.

In response to a question about noise, Showe said only three members of the chapter ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles, which are louder than other models.

Bill Sagle of 31 Elizabeth St. submitted a petition with 39 names opposing the clubhouse proposal.

"Our biggest concern is if they get their foot in the door, what's going to come next?" he said.

Sagle said the neighborhood will have "enough on its plate" with the nearby park and a proposed community center.

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