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Rezoning hearing draws no comments

August 14, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

No members of the public spoke at a Hagerstown Planning Commission public hearing on Wednesday on a proposed rezoning that Funkstown Town Council members had said they feared might allow Wal-Mart or another large store to be built at the Hagerstown Commons Shopping Center near Funkstown.

Planning Director Kathleen Maher said the Town of Funkstown's fears were misplaced. The property on Edgewood Drive considered by Wal-Mart in 2000 is zoned C2 (commercial general) and no change is proposed for that area, she said.

The city wants to rezone 43.8 acres from C5, a regional shopping center, to C4, which also is a regional shopping center designation, she said.

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The city has two zoning designations for regional shopping centers and wants to eliminate the C5 designation to simplify the zoning ordinance, Maher said.

The C4 rezoning would allow all uses that currently are allowed in the C5 district, she said.

In April 2003, the city created size caps for freestanding retail buildings and shopping centers, prohibiting buildings in the C2 district from having more than 75,000 square feet of floor area, Maher said.

The Wal-Mart Supercenter stores are about 225,000 square feet, she said.

Funkstown Mayor Robert L. Kline had sent to Doug Wright, chairman of the Hagerstown Planning Commission, a letter expressing opposition to the rezoning from C5 to C4 because of concerns it could result in increased traffic problems in the town. The Funkstown Town Council discussed the matter at its Monday meeting.

Kline wrote that "the existing roads in Funkstown are becoming unmanageable due to the increased traffic generated by developments and commercial enterprises that are occurring in areas directly outside our city limit and beyond...

"The town of Funkstown wants to maintain its unique character and quality of life. The impact of commercial enterprises in that area continues to increase traffic congestion and pedestrian safety issues in our area," the letter said.

Kline did not attend the Wednesday night hearing.

In December 2000, the Hagerstown Planning Commission ruled against a proposal to build a 207,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter and a 30,000-square-foot retail building on 31.5 acres along Edgewood Drive. The planning commission said the buildings were too large for a C2 commercial district and that the project would bring too much traffic to the area.

The company appealed the Planning Commission ruling and in January 2001, Washington County Circuit Judge Kennedy Boone ruled in favor of the Planning Commission on all counts. He said it has the authority to decide whether a zoning is appropriate and to consider off-site traffic issues, which were the basis for the commission's December decision.

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