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Residents oppose development

January 14, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Two dozen residents spoke out at a public hearing Monday night against a nearly 400-unit development proposed for the Marsh Pike area, saying the development would be incompatible with the area, would overcrowd schools and increase traffic congestion.

The residents urged the Washington County Commissioners and Planning Commission to reject a request for a special zoning designation that would allow the development proposed for 97.27 acres at the northside of the Marsh Pike and Leitersburg Pike (Md. 60) intersection.

None of the approximately 100 people who attended spoke in favor of the development, called Emerald Pointe.

Emerald Pointe would consist of 89 duplexes, 88 single-family homes and 92 townhouses.

Russ Townsley, a project engineer, said a retirement living center planned for the site would contain 126 units.

Developer Paul N. Crampton Jr. said the single-family homes would be 2,200 to 4,000 square feet and would cost $220,000 or more. The townhouses would be 1,400 to 1,500 square feet each, with four townhouses to a building. The townhouses would cost $140,000 or more.

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The duplexes would be 1,800 to 3,000 square feet and would cost $180,000 or more, Crampton said.

"It's a very nice upscale development," Crampton said. "It's not something, I think, any of us would be ashamed of."

Marsh Pike-area resident John Hamburg said he didn't doubt that the development would be nice. He said he didn't think the number and types of homes proposed would fit with the area, which primarily consists of single-family homes.

"It is not at all compatible with everything else in the area," Hamburg said. "It's a beautiful concept - maybe for someplace."

Crampton is seeking a Planned Urban Development (PUD) zoning designation for the project.

A PUD allows higher-density development on property than would be allowed under a property's existing zoning. The land is currently zoned agricultural.

Resident Jim Laird said Washington County government has always been "a friend" of developers and allows them to build without paying for the impact their developments have on such things as roads and school capacity.

He said taxes would increase in the county if developers "don't have to pay their fair share."

Resident Bob Brady said the development, along with others proposed for the area, would overcrowd schools, particularly Paramount Elementary School. He said the increase in students would force the addition of new classrooms, a financial burden that would fall on the county.

Residents may submit comments about the proposed PUD to the Washington County Planning Commission for the next 10 days at 80 W. Baltimore St., Hagerstown, MD 21740.

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