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Black Rock decision challenged

March 31, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

An attorney for three Black Rock residents has challenged a November 2002 decision by the Washington County Commissioners that could affect the outcome of a proposed 595-unit residential development near Black Rock Golf Course.

Attorney William C. Wantz says witnesses who spoke about the proposed development at a Sept. 23 public hearing were never sworn in. As a result, the evidence presented by the witnesses was not substantial and should not have been considered in the County Commissioners' decision, Wantz states in court documents.

Wantz filed the appeal on March 21 in Washington County Circuit Court on behalf of J. Michael Nye, Nickolas Orfan and Kurt Cushwa.

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The commissioners agreed on Nov. 19 to classify 220 acres off Mount Aetna Road as a Planned Unit Development, or PUD, zoning designation. The decision allowed property owner Manny Shaool to move forward with plans to build a 595-unit residential development consisting of 100 townhouses, 50 two-family units, 180 condominiums and 265 single-family homes on the land.

The underlying zoning for the land remains agricultural, while PUD is an overlaying zoning designation that allows for greater housing density. It also allows construction of townhouses, which agricultural zoning does not permit.

Wantz is basing his claims on a 2002 Maryland Court of Special Appeals decision, in which the court ruled that witnesses at public hearings must be sworn in for their testimony to be considered.

Wantz also states in court documents Shaool did not show that the proper road improvements would be made to accommodate the proposed development or that schools in the Black Rock area are adequate to support increased enrollments.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook and Vice President William J. Wivell could not be reached for comment Friday. The other three commissioners who ruled on the Shaool application are no longer on the board.

The former board of commissioners went against the advice of the Washington County Planning Commission and approved Shaool's request by a vote of 3-2. Snook and Wivell voted against Shaool's request.

The Planning Commission said in its denial that a large number of homes from the development would be located next to farmland.

Black Rock area residents have said the development would cause school overcrowding and traffic problems.

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