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Duplex work continues

June 20, 2004|By TARA REILLY

BOONSBORO

Among mounds of dirt, piles of sand and construction equipment, at least 30 volunteers on Saturday morning poured footers, cemented concrete blocks and pushed wheel barrows.

Some of the volunteers have been working since last week to build as much of a Habitat for Humanity of Washington County duplex as possible before a new Boonsboro ordinance takes effect on Thursday.

The ordinance may halt construction of the duplex, in which two families are supposed to live. The duplex would front an alley off St. Paul Street.

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The Boonsboro Town Council last Monday unanimously passed an emergency ordinance that states new homes cannot be built facing alleys, after some residents complained about the duplex.

The ordinance goes into effect 10 days after it was passed.

"We're trying to do in 10 days what normally takes a month to do," said Sherry Brown Cooper, Habitat for Humanity's local executive director.

She said she hopes that by having the foundation built before the deadline, the duplex will be grandfathered in under the ordinance.

"We got to beat the controversy," volunteer Adrian Poffenberger of Hagerstown said.

Poffenberger said Saturday was his first time volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. He said he decided to help build the duplex after hearing of Boonsboro's new ordinance.

"I had never heard of such controversy over a Habitat house before," said Poffenberger, a research scientist. "Everybody needs a place to live, so that's why I'm here."

Kelly Collins, Habitat for Humanity's volunteer coordinator, said people have asked to work on the duplex after learning about the Boonsboro ordinance in the newspaper, in e-mail and through their churches.

She said people started showing up at about 7 a.m. Saturday.

Russell Williams of Hagerstown said he heard about the ordinance in an e-mail and decided he wanted to help Habitat.

Williams, a Washington County Board of Education member, said that while he couldn't help out physically, he could provide support another way.

He dropped off three watermelons, paper plates, cups and other items for the volunteers.

"In Washington County, the cost of housing is becoming more and more out of the range for our residents," Williams said. "Society must care for all of its people."

James Clarke and his 10-year-old daughter, Shanese, also pitched in.

James Clarke said he's been a Habitat volunteer for eight years.

"To me, it's a very good thing to help others and to encourage other people to help one another," Clarke said.

Habitat will be building a house for his family on Liberty Street in Hagerstown, he said.

Cooper said she was thankful for the volunteer support, which will help low-income families live "the American dream" of owning a home.

She said increasing housing costs are making it hard for low-income families to find affordable housing.

"Why shouldn't they have the opportunity to raise their family in a safe, decent place?" Cooper asked.

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