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Planning Commission to hold hearing on proposed zoning changes

May 30, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown Planning Commission voted at Wednesday's meeting to take to a public hearing proposed changes to Hagerstown's zoning ordinance intended to better control the number of apartment units in the city.

Under the proposed changes, owners of some residential buildings would be prohibited from altering or subdividing them for the purpose of creating additional residential units.

The proposed changes would require approval of the Hagerstown City Council, Senior Planner Kathleen Maher said.

About 60 percent of the total housing units in the City of Hagerstown are rental units and 40 percent are owned, Maher said.

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The city is trying to get to the point where 60 percent of housing units are owned, which is the case for Washington County, she said.

The proposed changes will help with that effort, she said.

Having more single-family homes, as opposed to more apartments, would improve the quality of life in neighborhoods, Maher said.

The city's planning department has said that many property owners are converting houses and apartments into many apartments, which is turning neighborhoods into eyesores. Planning officials said the property owners create several apartments in a dwelling so they can collect more rent.

Chief of Code Enforcement John Lestitian has said when landlords squeeze additional apartments into buildings, they often don't keep up with maintenance and look for low-income tenants who cannot afford to live anywhere else.

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