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W House zoning variance request OK'd

September 19, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown Board of Zoning Appeals Wednesday approved one of two variance requests by the W House of Hagerstown Foundation Inc. for its new building at 519 N. Locust St.

W House received permission to reduce the number of off-street parking spaces at the site from 10 to six in order to create a courtyard. W House Executive Director Christina Trenton told the board the group plans to turn a driveway into three parking spaces.

The courtyard would provide a place for W House residents to smoke and it could also be used for other activities as well, Trenton said.

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However, the zoning appeals board rejected a request for permission to erect a fence for the courtyard in front of the front building setback.

Zoning appeals board Chairman James Johnson Jr. removed himself from the case because he has provided legal representation to the organization in the past, leaving only two board members, Tamela Baker and Fay Smith, to act on the requests.

"We are very pleased that the parking variance was granted and certainly will abide by the decision in terms of the fence," Trenton said after the meeting.

Wednesday's decisions clears the way for the Hagerstown City Council to vote at Tuesday's meeting on a W House request for a $350,000 loan from the city for Community Development Block Grant funds.

The council was scheduled to vote on the loan at a meeting last month but that decision was delayed until the board heard and acted on the W House request.

W House, a substance abuse program for women, purchased the 11,000-square-foot Locust Street property to replace its present 2,500-square-foot home on Antietam Street. The Locust Street property previously was the site of Ted's Rent-It Center.

The W House received permission to use the Locust Street property at a September 2001 meeting of the Hagerstown Board of Zoning Appeals but the parking issue was not addressed at that time.

Some residents in the Locust Street area have told council members they oppose W House moving into their area but the group will move in regardless of whether it gets the loan, Trenton said.

The new property will double W House's bed capacity from nine to 18, she said.

The extra space will enable W House to serve 40 or more women a year, Trenton said.

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