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Rental zoning studied

The Hagerstown Planning Commission held a public hearing on proposed ordinance changes to control the creation of new apartments

The Hagerstown Planning Commission held a public hearing on proposed ordinance changes to control the creation of new apartments

July 25, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Only one person spoke at a Hagerstown Planning Commission public hearing Wednesday on 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.

Chris Yambor, of 131 S. Prospect Ave., spoke in support of the changes, which he hopes will result in fewer future problems with parking and trash resulting from the creation of new units.

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Yambor also presented the commission with a petition signed by 22 people supporting the changes.

The proposed changes require the approval of the Hagerstown City Council.

At a June 4 meting, all five council members said they support the changes.

Planning officials have said some property owners are converting houses and apartments into more 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.

The apartment conversions are occurring at a rate of at least one a month, building inspector Mike Heyser said.

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.

At the May 21 Hagerstown City Council meeting, Councilman Kristin Aleshire suggested a moratorium on the alteration of existing buildings to create apartments. Council members Lewis Metzner and Penny May Nigh said they supported the idea.

But City Attorney John Urner said the city cannot impose a moratorium unless there is some kind of public emergency.

The city can, however, restrict alterations through text amendments.

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