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Developers offer land for elementary school

March 04, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

As preliminary work for a 773-unit development off Sharpsburg Pike gets under way, talks have begun about a part of that land being used for a new Washington County elementary school.

Jim MacGillivray, vice president of Ausherman Development, said the company has offered to the Washington County Commissioners about 10 or 12 acres in the middle of the development to be used as a school.

Another six acres next to that land are available to the county for ballfields or other recreational activities, he said.

"We have been asked, and we have made an offer to the county..." MacGillivray said. "But we haven't gotten a clear indication back from the county commissioners that they want this."

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The development, known as Westfields, is on Sharpsburg Pike, south of Saint James Village.

"Both the school board and the commissioners are interested in that," Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said when contacted Wednesday night.

He said the site probably would be a nice location for a school, because of the size of the Westfields development and other development taking place in that area.

Snook said he's met with MacGillivray once or twice and asked him to put together a plan for a possible school site and present it to the planning commission.

MacGillivray said that in Frederick, Md., Ausherman Development made a similar deal under which an elementary school was built in the 1,500-unit Whittier development.

"The kids get to walk to school, and the people get to use it for other purposes," MacGillivray said.

Washington County Planning Commission member George Anikis said by phone Wednesday that one of the possibilities discussed by the commission is that the new school would replace Fountain Rock Elementary School, which would close.

Carol Mowen, the Washington County Board of Education's public information officer, said school officials were not available for comment on the land proposal Wednesday.

The planning commission gave preliminary plat approval for the first two sections of the plan several months ago.

MacGillivray said Ausherman will request final plat approval for those sections, which total about 120 lots, at the April 5 planning commission meeting.

He said the development will consist mainly of single-family homes and duplexes.

Anikis said crews have begun grading the site and doing stormwater management work, which involves creating a small pond to collect runoff.

MacGillivray said builders will begin selling homes in April and construction of those homes might start in August.

The entire development, formerly known as Saint James Park, would be on more than 400 acres.

Snook said plans for a golf course in the development have been removed and that area will be replaced with mainly open space and trees.

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