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Board to hold zoning hearing

General Store owner Richard Grove wants to build rental units on land zoned town residential.

General Store owner Richard Grove wants to build rental units on land zoned town residential.

September 04, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - The Smithsburg Zoning Appeals Board on Thursday will hear a Smithsburg property owner's request for a special exception to allow multi-family dwellings on nearly 10 acres of land he owns along Maple Avenue.

Smithsburg General Store owner Richard Grove has requested the special exception because he wants to build 78 rental apartment units and a community center for senior citizens on land zoned town residential and used for agriculture, Zoning Appeals Board President David Williams said.

Smithsburg's zoning ordinance allows for multi-family dwellings in town residential zoning districts with a special exception.

Grove's property is surrounded by the Chips Meadow subdivision, a private dirt road, Maple Avenue and railroad tracks. The only entrance to the senior housing complex would be located off Maple Avenue, Williams said.

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More than 40 Smithsburg residents in August signed a petition opposing the zoning change request, which engineering firm Antietam Design submitted to the town's Zoning Appeals Board in late July.

A number of residents spoke against Grove's proposal at a public hearing in late August, saying the high-density development would create traffic problems, overburden the town's sewer system and devalue surrounding property, among other concerns, Williams said.

In an August letter to town and appeals board officials, Maple Avenue residents Michelle and Kevin Boylan said increased traffic entering the apartment complex from Maple Avenue could pose a "life-threatening hazard to my three young children and all the other residents of Maple Avenue."

The proposed development is inconsistent with the town's comprehensive plan, and conflicts with the single-family home character of the neighborhood, the Boylans wrote.

Many opponents said Maple Avenue is too narrow to accommodate increased traffic, he said.

The town has plans to improve the section of the road near the proposed development site in 2004, but widening the road would be "very disruptive" because utility poles would have to be removed and private property obtained on each side of the street, Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers said.

The appeals board asked Grove, who was not present at the August hearing, to answer a number of questions needed to make a decision about his request for a special exception to the zoning ordinance, Williams said.

The Zoning Appeals Board hearing at 7 p.m. is open to the public.

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