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Opposition grows to developers proposal

Government officials and residents are speaking out against Manny Shaool's plan for a development near Clear Spring.

Government officials and residents are speaking out against Manny Shaool's plan for a development near Clear Spring.

October 07, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Opposition is growing for a proposed 62 single-family-unit development that would border 2,000 acres of county preserved farmland near Clear Spring, with government officials and residents speaking out against the plan submitted by developer Manny Shaool.

Shaool said Sunday the concerns have no merit because he has followed the county ordinance in devising the plan.

The development would be on 123 acres at the intersection of Md. 57 (St. Paul Church Road) and Hicksville Road, northeast of Clear Spring.

The Washington County Planning Commission will discuss the Sunset Meadows proposal today at 7 p.m. at 80 W. Baltimore St.

In a letter to the planning department, County Land Preservation Administrator Eric Seifarth wrote that the development could possibly jeopardize state funding to preserve land in the area.

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He wrote that the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Program encourages counties to avoid such situations because the development might generate conflicts between land preservation and residential uses.

Associate Planner Jill Baker said the plan is inconsistent with the county's recently adopted comprehensive plan.

Clear Spring residents Charles and Alliene Downs and Phillip Downs wrote in a letter to the planning department that the development would tax the water supply for surrounding farms and affect water quality.

They also wrote that the development might encourage more farmers in the area to develop rather than preserve their land.

"This would change the complexion of the Clear Spring area from a rural countryside to a community surrounded by numerous housing developments," they wrote.

The Downs' concerns were shared by other residents, who also submitted letters to the planning department opposing the development.

"These people are against everything," Shaool said of the Clear Spring-area citizens.

Clear Spring resident Betsey Lillard wrote that Sunset Meadows would overburden roads and overcrowd Clear Spring schools. She also wrote that it would attract more development to the rural area.

"There are no major restaurant chains or shopping centers within Clear Spring," Lillard wrote. "We wish to keep it that way. A new development would open the floodgates to more development and new demands on our mostly agricultural area."

"People live in Clear Spring to be in the country and live around the farmland, and this is very upsetting that someone would want to take that away," residents Dale and Karen Faith wrote. "It's time to stop all of this building and taking our green land away from us. All this would do is make things worse, and the Clear Spring area does not want this."

Shaool said the residents have the right to express their opinions but that their opinions have no standing.

"Those letters have no merit in the decision-making for the Planning Commission or County Commissioners," Shaool said. "The law will tell you what to do. I'm following the ordinance. I'm not doing anything illegal."

Washington County Commissioner Bert Iseminger said Sunday that public opposition can warrant a rejection of the plan if the concerns are legitimate.

Iseminger is also an ex-officio member of the Planning Commission.

Shaool said other developers are building in rural areas and that he feels like he's being singled out.

"I don't know why they talk about me. It is not necessary," Shaool said. "I'm a businessman in the business of building houses, like many other people."

Shaool said he knows many people who want him to build in the Clear Spring area. He also said growth is positive for the county.

"This county needs growth, and growth has to go somewhere," Shaool said. "Without growth, the county dies."

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