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Zoning change denial advised for development

November 05, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

A 595-unit development proposed for construction off Mount Aetna Road hit another snag Monday night when the Washington County Planning Commission recommended that the County Commissioners again deny the developer a special zoning designation that would help move the complex forward.

The Planning Commission voted 3-0 on the recommendation, saying one of the major reasons for its action would be that a large number of homes would be located next to farmland.

Developer Manny Shaool proposed the plan, which calls for 265 single-family homes, 50 two-family units, 100 townhouses and 180 condominium units on 220 acres near the Black Rock Golf Course east of Hagerstown.

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The three Planning Commission members who voted were Chairwoman Paula Lampton, Donald Ardinger and George Anikis. Ex-officio member Bert Iseminger, who also is a County Commissioner, abstained from the vote because he will take a final vote as a County Commissioner.

Planning Commission members R. Ben Clopper and Vice Chairman Robert C. Ernst could not vote because they did not attend a public hearing in which the development was discussed nor did they listen to a tape of the hearing.

Earlier this year, Shaool withdrew a plan for a 990-unit housing complex at the site after the Planning Commission in May recommended the County Commissioners reject the proposal, citing density and traffic concerns.

With both proposals, Shaool requested a Planned Urban Development, or PUD, zoning designation, which would enable him to build more units per acre than county regulations normally allow.

Shaool wants the PUD because it would allow a variety of housing types, Bill Weikert of Fox and Associates has said.

The property is in the county's Urban Growth Area, a government-identified area in which development is encouraged.

"If the townhouses and PUD were not right up against the farmland, I probably could support that," Ardinger said.

"It just doesn't fit," Lampton said.

Ardinger and Anikis said insufficient information about the costs of road improvements that would be needed with the development weighed in their decision.

After the meeting, Shaool said he had thought the Planning Commission would recommend approval of his request because he lowered the housing density of what was originally proposed.

"I was expecting the positive vote, because I did everything they asked," Shaool said. "The County Commissioners might have different opinions."

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