Commissioners vote to include farm in town growth area

February 11, 2004|by TAMELA BAKER

The Washington County Commissioners opened the way Tuesday for possible development of a 91-acre farm east of Boonsboro when they voted to allow it to be included in Boonsboro's town growth area.

Currently zoned for agricultural use, most of the property was slated for a new zoning classification, environmental conservation, under the county's Comprehensive Plan. The remainder, about 15 acres, would have been included in the Boonsboro Town Growth Area.

The property's owners, Stiles Family Limited Partnership, asked that the entire farm be included in the growth area, and the town of Boonsboro supported the request, said Interim Planning Director Stephen T. Goodrich.


The county planning commission had recommended that the request be denied.

Plans to relocate and expand the Warrenfeltz Co. Inc. hardware store to the Stiles property drove the request, said Todd Easterday, whose family owns the store. The store now operates within the town.

Goodrich said the planning commission recommended the commissioners deny the request because of environmental concerns, including steep slopes, streams, wetlands and forest cover. Part of the property is in a flood plain, Goodrich said. Placing the property within the town growth area could allow low-density development, he said.

A number of Boonsboro-area residents attended the meeting; those who spoke were split over whether the farm should be included in the town growth area. Those who approved complained there was not enough commercial development in the southern portion of the county.

"We have nowhere to go except Frederick for shopping," said Giovanni Orcino of Keedysville.

Those opposed said they feared increased traffic and storm drainage problems if the property were developed. Several residents of Gilardi Road, outside Boonsboro, were represented by Hagerstown attorney D. Bruce Poole.

"We support the county's proposal, which would not disallow commercial development" on 15 acres of the farm, Poole said. If the entire property were part of the town growth area, he said, "it opens up a whole environmentally sensitive area for development."

Commissioner James Kercheval said the Maryland Department of Environment would address environmental issues should the property be developed or annexed into Boonsboro. "The bottom line is I have as many people against it as for it," he said. "The swaying factor is that the town is asking for expansion of the growth boundary."

"I have full faith in the town of Boonsboro and I do not support the planning commission," added Commissioner John Munson.

Commissioners Doris Nipps and William Wivell voted to support the planning commission, but Commission President Gregory I. Snook voted with Kercheval and Munson.

Poole said he would review options with his clients, but noted that "any appeal now would have to go to court."

Easterday said as yet there are no solid plans for residential development on the property, but he hoped to relocate the hardware store "as soon as possible."

How they voted:

A motion to uphold the position of the Planning Commission and deny the inclusion of the Stiles Farm in the Boonsboro Town Growth Area failed on a 3-2 vote of the Washington County Commissioners.

James Kercheval: No

John Munson: No

Gregory Snook: No

Doris Nipps: Yes

William Wivell: Yes

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