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Neighborhood fights change

August 15, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Robert L. Perrott patiently waited Wednesday night for his turn to speak out to save his Pangborn Boulevard neighborhood from what he sees as runaway development.

Speaking at the Hagerstown Planning Commission meeting at City Hall, Perrott said he fought in a war to keep America free. "Now we will not be free any more."

Coupled with the unsettling prospect of his neighborhood changing, Perrott told commission members he believes there is a plan to tear his house down.

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Commission Chairman Douglas Wright told Perrott that Wednesday night's meeting wasn't about tearing his house at 200 Pangborn Blvd. down or anyone else's house down.

Nonetheless, feelings ran high as neighbor after neighbor spoke about the changes they see as bad for their quality of life.

The meeting was scheduled so the planning commission could hear both from residents and from the developers who want a strip of land along Eastern Boulevard rezoned from residential to general commercial.

Necessary evidence that the neighborhood has changed was presented by Malcolm Davis of Davis, Renn and Associates on behalf of Kensington and Dahbura Enterprises, the developers.

Those changes include the construction of Eastern Boulevard; gas mains, water mains, sewers and a pumping station were constructed; the city annexed nearly 75 acres there; the corporate boundaries have changed significantly since 1972; and nine rezonings have occurred in the neighborhood.

Jack Mesner, of 184 Pangborn Blvd., said he wanted to make sure there would be no access between the proposed commercial development on the west side of Eastern Boulevard and Pangborn Boulevard.

Wright said there were no guarantees, but there was strong support for denying such access.

"Don't let development creep into our lovely neighborhood," said Catherine Garcia, of 112 Pangborn Blvd. "And after all, Hagerstown has enough shopping areas that aren't doing too well."

Vivian Ogle echoed that sentiment, referring to word Wednesday that Ames is closing and an ailing Long Meadow Shopping Center to the north. "We have failed development at both ends," said the resident of 138 Pangborn Blvd.

"Keep the development on the other side of Eastern Boulevard," Joe Porreca said. A resident of 206 Division Ave., Porreca said he is concerned about more traffic.

"From the Dual Highway to Jefferson Boulevard, it's really jammed up ... sometimes I can't get across," he said.

"I think about 50,000 people would agree with you on that point," Wright said.

The commission members voted to keep the record open for 10 days for more comments.

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