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After Habitat plan given approval, Boonsboro

June 22, 2004

Q. What is the issue?

A. Habitat for Humanity of Washington County has a permit to build a duplex fronting an alley in Boonsboro. After the town granted approval for the project last July, some residents complained. At a special meeting June 14 the Town Council adopted an emergency ordinance banning construction of a residence that fronts an alley.

Q. How does this affect the Habitat for Humanity duplex?

A. No one is sure. The ordinance takes effect Thursday night, 10 days after it was passed. The debate is whether the ordinance can be used to stop construction of the duplex.

Q. What will Habitat for Humanity officials do now?

A. According to Roger Schlossberg, the attorney representing Habitat, if there is "substantial construction" before the ordinance becomes effective, Habitat will have "vested rights to the property which the statute cannot take away." Shelley Wasserman, assistant attorney general with the Maryland Department of Planning, said that in Maryland a developer has to have acted on a permit to have vested rights. Habitat officials plan on continuing construction.

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Q. How much construction on the duplex has occurred?

A. As of Monday, work was progressing on the construction of a concrete block foundation.

Q. What is Habitat for Humanity?

A. Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit organization founded in 1976 "to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world," according to their Web site: www.habitat.org. Through volunteer labor and money, the various chapters of the organizations have helped build more than 150,000 houses around the world. For information on local projects, Habitat for Humanity of Washington County can be reached at 301-791-9009.

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