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Consensus reached on settlement offer

January 29, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown City Council reached consensus in closed session Tuesday on how to respond to a non-binding offer by a Washington County Commissioner to try to settle two lawsuits the county has filed against the city.

City officials wouldn't say what that response would be, Mayor William Breichner said.

As a courtesy to county officials, the city won't announce its response until the next meeting of a city-county committee that is attempting to negotiate a settlement to the annexation policy issue, Breichner said.

A date for that meeting has not been set.

The suits are related to the city's disputed annexation policy.

The city maintains the annexation policy is legal while the county contends it is not.

At the Jan. 7 council meeting, Washington County Commissioner William J. Wivell gave the council nonbinding oral and written proposals which, if accepted, could lead to settlement of two lawsuits the county has filed against the city, he said.

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Wivell, the county commissioners' representative on the city-county committee, has said he believes negotiations can continue while the lawsuits work their way through the courts.

The disputed annexation policy requires property along the city's borders to be annexed before city water and sewer service are extended to the area.

Unless they can get a city exemption, owners of property that does not border the city would have to agree to future annexation before receiving city water and sewer service. That annexation would be required once their properties became adjacent to city land.

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