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Panel suggests merging offices

November 13, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

The Hagerstown Planning Commission on Wednesday suggested the City of Hagerstown and Washington County governments study the feasibility of a joint city and county parks and recreation office.

The recommendation by the commission came during Wednesday's meeting as the planning commission reviewed a draft of an updated Washington County Land Preservation and Recreation Plan.

The Washington County Planning Department has been soliciting feedback on the plan, which is scheduled to be presented to the Washington County Planning Commission on Dec. 1.

The county report suggested the county try to avoid duplication of services and resources.

In its written feedback, provided to the Hagerstown Planning Commission for the meeting, city planning staff suggested the city and county could share space and support staff, perhaps at the Fairgrounds Entrance Building.

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Hagerstown Planning Commission member Fred Nugent suggested - and the commission agreed - that the commission should urge the city and county to investigate the idea.

The commission agreed to send a letter to that effect to the Washington County Planning Department and the Hagerstown mayor and City Council.

Landscaping discussed


The Hagerstown Planning Commission on Wednesday discussed possible changes to city landscaping requirements but rejected, at least for now, one proposed change.

The commission spent more than an hour combing through and commenting on a draft of the updated requirements, which were discussed at the Oct. 24 meeting.

The landscape requirements are intended to make sure that new development projects "include trees, shrubs and flowers to enhance the general aesthetics of our commercial corridors, improve stormwater quality and reduce heat generated by paved areas," the city staff report said.

If adopted by the Hagerstown City Council, the requirements would, among other things, call for tree islands to be spaced throughout parking lots and shrubs and flowers planted around the base of signs.

The commission members rejected a proposed staff change that would have required new commercial businesses to build a minimum 15-foot wide natural or planted buffer between businesses even if they have the same zoning.

"If the council wants to put it back in, they can put it back in," Planning Commission Chairman Douglas Wright said.

He said he thinks some of the requirements are too stringent, and the commission needs to be convinced the changes are needed.

"We need some hand-holding on this," he said.

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