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Planning commission expresses concerns over traffic flow

July 08, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Members of the Washington County Planning Commission on Monday said they feared the amount of traffic that might result from construction of a 1,103-unit housing development proposed for land near Eastern Elementary School would be too much for the area's roads to handle.

The proposed development, called Mount Aetna Farms, would include 426 single-family homes, 521 townhouses, 10 apartment units and 136 condominiums, County Senior Planner Timothy Lung said.

The development would be on 224.6 acres off Yale Drive between Hagerstown Community College and Robinwood Medical Center, just west of Robinwood Drive.

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Lung said it's possible a road would have to be constructed from Eastern Boulevard across Antietam Creek to Robinwood Drive at Varsity Lane to deal with traffic.

Planning Commission member Bernard Moser said Eastern Boulevard already has traffic problems and that the proposed development might make the situation worse.

"Eastern Boulevard has already failed the test," Moser said. "You can't get out on Eastern Boulevard if you're not at one of the stop signs."

"Traffic is what I see being the thing," Planning Commission member R. Ben Clopper said. "It's going to be quite an impact."

The land on which the proposed development would be located is owned by R B Young Limited Liability Partnership of Hagerstown, but the application for a special zoning designation was submitted by QC Enterprises of Cockeysville, Md.

QC Enterprises is requesting a Planned Unit Development (PUD), which would allow the company to move forward with the mixed-housing plan.

A PUD is an overlaying zoning designation that would allow for greater housing density. The land currently is zoned residential suburban and agricultural.

A PUD also allows construction of townhouses, which agricultural zoning alone does not permit.

Acting at the recommendation from planning staff, the Planning Commission voted not to consider approving the PUD application until a traffic study is completed.

The PUD still must be taken to a public hearing before either the Planning Commission or the Washington County Commissioners vote on it.

Some Planning Commission members said the proposed development would have an impact on area schools.

According to planning documents, School Board Director of Facilities Management Dennis McGee said at a June meeting on the proposal that enrollment at Eastern is projected to be over capacity each year through 2009. He said neighboring schools also are at 100 percent capacity.

Eastern is scheduled to receive two portable classrooms for the next school year.

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