City Council briefs

August 21, 2002

Preliminary approval given to rate study

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a proposal to have an outside independent consultant review the city's water and sewer rates.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire previously asked the city to consider having the fees studied.

During a presentation, city department heads provided an overview of the present water and sewer fees and related matters and recommended a study by an independent company.

City staff are to return to the council with further information, including a timeline and a plan for how the study will be funded, Finance Director Alfred Martin said.

The rates are reviewed annually and adjusted as necessary to meet revenue requirements for the city water and sewer operations, but the basic rate differentials and structure have remained the same since a 1988 sewer fund study and a 1991 water fund study, a city staff report said.


Annexation policy is subject of discussion

The Hagerstown City Council on Tuesday discussed the planned implementation of a new city annexation policy, which takes effect Sept. 1.

The policy, unanimously adopted by the council on May 28, requires property along the city's borders to be annexed before city water and sewer service will be extended to the area.

Economic Development Coordinator Deborah Everhart distributed to the council Tuesday a draft copy of the application that property owners would have to fill out.

An Annexation Review Committee will establish procedures and rule on property owners' requests for exceptions to the policy.

Committee decisions can be appealed to the council.

Annexations will be limited to land within the Hagerstown urban growth area unless the annexation is suggested by the Washington County Commissioners.

Under the policy, a property owner requesting city water and sewer service but whose property is not along the city line would have to agree to annexation whenever that property becomes contiguous to the city.

Hearing scheduled on zoning proposals

The Hagerstown City Council will hold a public hearing at next Tuesday's meeting on proposed changes to Hagerstown's zoning ordinance intended to better control the number of apartment units in the city.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. at Hagerstown City Hall.

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 changes require the approval of the Hagerstown City Council.

The Hagerstown Planning Commission voted Aug. 14 to recommend adoption of the changes.

Only one person spoke at a July 24 Hagerstown Planning Commission public hearing on the issue. Chris Yambor, of 131 S. Prospect Ave., spoke in support of the changes. He said he hoped they would decrease parking and trash problems that would result from the creation of new units.

At a June 4 meeting, all five council members gave general support for 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 has said.

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