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Shaool development clears hurdle

November 20, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A 595-unit development off Mount Aetna Road cleared a hurdle Tuesday when the Washington County Commissioners narrowly approved a special zoning designation that will allow such a high-density development at the site.

The County Commissioners voted 3-2 for the designation, going against the recommendation of the Washington County Planning Commission.

Commissioners Vice President Paul L. Swartz and Commissioners Bert L. Iseminger and John L. Schnebly voted in favor of granting the designation.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook and Commissioner William J. Wivell voted against the zoning approval.

"I just felt that multi-family units out there were a little bit too much for the area," Snook said Tuesday night.

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Snook said he didn't have a problem with the single-family homes proposed for the site.

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 Black Rock Golf Course east of Hagerstown. The site borders farmland.

Shaool could not be reached for comment.

He requested approval of a Planned Urban Development (PUD) zoning designation, to enable him to build more units per acre than county regulations normally allow.

The commissioners who voted for the zoning designation said the proposed development is consistent with the county's Comprehensive Plan and is in the Urban Growth Area.

An Urban Growth Area is a government-identified area in which development is encouraged.

"We were just trying to be consistent with our logic about growth management in Washington County," Schnebly said.

He said the site of the proposed development makes sense because public water and sewer is available there, there's already extensive growth to the west of the site and it is near the largest concentration of PUDs in the county.

"It seems to me to be a logical area for that kind of growth and development," Schnebly said.

Schnebly said he doesn't want the public to have the misconception that the county is anti-growth, since the commissioners recently approved a moratorium on major residential developments in rural areas.

The same commissioners who approved the moratorium also voted for Shaool's zoning request. Schnebly said the proposed development isn't in a rural area, so he could support it.

Earlier this month, the planning commission recommended that the commissioners deny the request because a large number of homes would be located next to farmland.

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