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Group gears up to fight truck center

August 12, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Maryland and Pennsylvania residents living near the Mason-Dixon Line have sent the Washington County Commissioners, Planning Commission and other public officials about 800 letters opposing a proposed truck distribution center, and they plan to flood their offices with more letters, e-mails, phone calls and visits.

People Saving Mason Dixon announced their plans to fight the proposed truck center at a meeting Monday night at the Maugansville Ruritan Club on Maugans Avenue, north of Hagerstown. About 70 people attended the meeting.

The truck center has been proposed by Brad Fulton, president of 2003 Mason Dixon LLC, for about 34 to 43 acres of a 172-acre farm at 17939 Mason Dixon Road. It would contain 337 truck spaces, 200 dock spaces, 126 car spaces and 53 tractor spaces.

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The land, owned by Leo E. and Mary E. Martin of Hagerstown, is 3,000 feet from Interstate 81 exit ramps and near the Norfolk Southern Railroad. The road is in Pennsylvania, but the land is in Maryland.

The Washington County Board of Zoning Appeals recently granted Fulton a special exception so he can build the center on the farmland. He must receive site plan approval from the Washington County Planning Commission before he can proceed with construction.

Planning Commission Chairwoman Paula Lampton said by phone Monday night that the site plan has not come before the commission.

People Saving Mason Dixon said they hope a unified voice against the proposed truck center will convince county officials that the center is not appropriate for Mason Dixon Road, a two-lane country road surrounded by farmland.

The group handed out sheets listing the addresses and phone numbers for dozens of elected and public officials whose support they will seek against the proposed truck center. They also called on residents to help raise money to fight the center in court.

"They don't have to flood me, because I don't agree with it," Commissioner John C. Munson said by phone Monday night. "Mason Dixon Road is not adequate for big trucks."

Munson said if a plan dealing with the truck center comes before the County Commissioners, he would vote against it.

Fulton did not return a phone call to his home Monday night, but a woman who answered the phone at his residence said Fulton usually doesn't comment on such matters.

Members of the group said they believe the truck distribution center would increase traffic on Mason Dixon Road and the narrow roads off it, lower property values, cause noise and environmental pollution, damage the agricultural-residential characteristic of the area and reduce the historical significance of the Mason-Dixon Line.

"I'd rather smell cow manure any day than smell diesel fuel," Pennsylvania resident Vince Serra said at the meeting.

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